Turkey Shoots Down Syrian Military Jet
Turkey has shot down a Syrian fighter plane which it claims “violated its airspace” near the border between the two countries.Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said: “Our F-16s took off and hit this plane. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, our slap after this will be hard.”
Speaking at a political rally, Mr Erdogan congratulated his military for defending the border.
The Syrian regime condemned the action as “blatant aggression” and said the jet was battling rebel fighters within its own territory.
Turkey said two MIG-23 fighters were picked up at around 11am GMT and warned four times they were too close to the border
One of the planes then crossed at Yayladagi, east of the Kasab border crossing, and was downed by a rocket from a Turkish F-16.
The pilot reportedly managed to eject but the aircraft crashed around 1.2km into Syrian territory. Amateur footage claims to show the aftermath of the crash.
Syrian rebels have been fighting pro-Assad fighters since Friday for control of the Kasab crossing in the northwest of the country.
The regime has lost control of most border crossings to Turkey but has been using air power to try to hold on to Kasab, the gateway to Latakia province, an Assad stronghold.
Syria this week accused Turkey of firing shells into Syria to give the rebels cover.
The downing of the plane comes six months after Turkey shot down a Syrian helicopter which crossed into airspace in the same area.
Turkey’s Mr Erdogan is a fierce critic of President Assad’s actions in Syria’s civil war and has sheltered and supported rebel Islamist fighters.
More than 140,000 people have been killed in the three-year Syrian conflict, with some 2.5 million fleeing to neighbouring countries.