ISTANBUL: A Turkish fighter jet shot down a Syrian military helicopter Monday after it entered Turkish airspace and ignored repeated warnings to leave, an official said.
The helicopter strayed 2 kilometers into Turkish airspace, but crashed inside Syria after being hit by missiles fired from the jet, Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Bulent Arinc, told reporters in Ankara.
Arinc said he did not have any information on the fate of the Syrian pilots, but Rami Abdel-Rahman, director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said rebel fighters captured one of the pilots, while the fate of the other one was unclear.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking in Paris after meetings on Syria with his counterparts from other countries, said Monday’s encounter should send a message. “Nobody will dare to violate Turkey’s borders in any way again,” he said, according to Anatolia, the Turkish state news agency. “The necessary measures have been taken.”
Arinc noted that the Turkish military had put its forces on a higher state of alert and changed the rules for engaging with the Syrian military along the border due to “‘constant harassment fire from the other side.”