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Turkey: We Shot Down Syrian Jet

Action may be a government effort to gain political scores ahead of a local vote that is scheduled to take place on March 30.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 3/23/2014, 3:22 PM

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Reuters

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Turkish F-16 fighter jets shot down a Syrian military jet which had violated its airspace Sunday.

The incident reportedly took place near Yayladağı, a district of the southern Hatay province, in an area where Syrian rebels and government forces have been fighting for control of a border crossing.

According to Turkey's Sunday Zaman, the shooting down of the jet may be a government effort to gain political scores ahead of a local vote that is scheduled to take place on March 30.

Citing Turkish officials, NTV reported that Turkish air defense system shot down a Syrian warplane after its incursion to the Turkish territory.

The incident came as Turkish government was mulling options to briefly intervene in Syria to protect the tomb of Süleyman Şah, the grandfather of the founder of the Ottoman Empire, whose security is provided by the Turkish troops as part of an agreement with the Syrian authorities.

Concerns over a possible Turkish military intervention in Syria have been floated following news of clashes between an al-Qaeda splinter group and other Syrian opposition groups in the area. In response to these reports, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said Turkey will retaliate in the event of an attack on the tomb of Süleyman Şah irrespective of where the attack comes from.

Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the main Turkish opposition party, the Republican People's Party (CHP), warned against any Turkish military incursion to Syria ahead of elections. According to the CHP leader, Erdoğan aims to divert public attention from a sweeping graft scandal that implicated the Erdoğan family.