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Turkish air force downs Syrian helicopter

16 September 2013

The Turkish Air Force shot down a Syrian helicopter today at the border after the helicopter violated Turkish airspace, Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said.

The Syrian M-17 continuously violated Turkish airspace despite repeated warning. The remains of the helicopter fell onto Syrian territory, Arinc said.

“It [The helicopter] violated Turkey’s border for two kilometers. It was repeatedly warned by air defence elements. Upon the continuation of the violation, it was determined that it fell into Syrian territory after being shot at 2.25 p.m. with a missile by our planes taking off from Malatya,” Arinc said.

The Syrian helicopter was followed and repeatedly warned by the Combined Control and Reporting Center (BIKIM) in Diyarbakır after being detected 26 nautical miles from Turkish airspace at 1.41 pm. on Monday 16th September, the statement said. The helicopter then violated Turkish airspace, encroaching two kilometers (1.2 miles) into in Hatay’s Yayladag district while flying at around 14,200 feet, and landed on Syrian soil after being shot by two Turkish F-16 jets at 2.27 pm, the TSK statement added.

Last year, Syria shot down a Turkish F-4 Phantom warplane which crashed into the Mediterranean on 22nd June. The country’s rules of engagement changed after that incident. Turkish officials did not publicly announce details of the revised rules of engagement, but some reports claimed Turkish forces would fire on any Syrian forces approaching within five kilometers of the Turkish border on the Syrian side.

In October the same year, a shell killed five civilians in the Akcakale district of Sanliurfa province. To protect Turkey, the United States, the Netherlands and Germany deployed batteries of ground-to-air NATO Patriot missiles and hundreds of soldiers along the Syrian border in southern Turkey at the request of Ankara.

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