Turkish F-16 fighter jets have been scrambled after a Russian warplane violated Turkey’s air space on Saturday, the foreign ministry says.
The Russian embassy in Ankara said a Russian plane did violate Turkish airspace, and Russia has “explained it” to Turkey, Russian news agency Interfax reports.
Turkey, which has the second-largest army in North Atlantic Treaty Organisation, said the Russian jet entered Turkish airspace south of the Hatay region on Saturday. But a senior USA official said the Obama administration does not believe the incursion was an accident, and officials are in urgent talks with allies about what to do.
“Russia told us in a written statement sent to our embassy that their activities were meant to fight ISIL”, Erdoğan said during Friday’s interview, “But Russian Federation conducted its operations not against ISIL, but against the moderate opposition which has been resisting the regime“.
Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, as well as key North Atlantic Treaty Organisation partners, the statement said.
Russian Federation began airstrikes in Syria on Wednesday, with President Vladimir Putin saying he is targeting ISIS, but at least a few of the strikes appear to have hit Western-backed rebel factions.
Turkey summoned the Russian ambassador and demanded that Russia avoid future infringements, the Foreign Ministry statement said.
North Atlantic Treaty Organisation Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg expressed solidarity with Turkey and said the situation would be taken up at a meeting later on Monday.
Turkey has labelled Russia’s bombing campaign in Syria as “unacceptable” with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan warning that Moscow was making a “grave mistake”.