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Syria Blasts Turkey for Shooting Down Helicopter

Turkey is trying to escalate tensions along the border with Syria, accuses Syrian army.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 9/17/2013, 4:45 AM

Helicopter (illustrative)
Helicopter (illustrative)
Flash 90

Syria's army on Monday blasted Turkey for shooting down a Syrian helicopter that entered Turkish airspace, saying that Turkey had been "hasty" in its decision.

The Syrian army also accused Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government of trying to escalate tensions along the border.

"The hasty response from the Turkish side, especially as the aircraft was on its way back and was not charged with any combat missions, is proof of the true intentions of Erdogan's government toward Syria to increase tensions and escalate the situation on the border between the two countries," Syria's armed forces said in a statement quoted by state news agency SANA.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said earlier that his country will provide the UN Security Council and fellow members of the NATO military alliance with details of the circumstances of the incident.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said the Syrian helicopter was detected two kilometers within Turkish airspace. He added that the helicopter “was continuously warned by our air defense but as the violation continued, it fell on Syrian soil, having been hit by missiles from our planes.”

Tensions have been high between Turkey and Syria for some time. Erdogan’s administration has been highly critical of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime. Turkey has provided support to factions within the rebel Free Syrian Army, and has supported military intervention in Syria.

In response, the Syrian regime has threatened Turkey with the publication of a list of “targets” that could be hit if Western armies were to intervene in Assad’s battle against rebel armies. Among the targets were strategic positions in Turkey, along with sites in Israel and Cyprus.

In mid-2012 Syria shot down a Turkish plane. Syrian officials later said that the shooting was an accident, and explained that troops may have mistaken the plane for an Israeli one.