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Turkish F-16s intercept Russian aircraft after violating airspace

By Andrew V. Pestano
Turkish F-16s intercept Russian aircraft after violating airspace
A Russian fighter aircraft was intercepted by two Turkish air force F-16s after the Russian craft violated Turkey's airspace near Syria on Saturday. Photo by Sergei Tsvetkov/Russian air force | License Photo

ANKARA, Turkey, Oct. 5 (UPI) -- Two Turkish Air Force F-16s intercepted a Russian fighter aircraft after it violated Turkey's airspace near Syria, further escalating tensions over Moscow's involvement in the Syrian civil war.

Turkey's acting undersecretary of foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador in Ankara, Turkey's capital, and "strongly protested this violation, demanded that any such violation not be repeated and affirmed that, otherwise, the Russian Federation will be responsible for any undesired incident that may occur," according to a statement released Monday by Turkey's Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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The Turkish F-16s were conducting patrols in the Yayladağı-Hatay region, where the Russian aircraft was located on Saturday. The Russian fighter was "intercepted' before exiting Turkish airspace by entering Syria.

Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu called Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov to protest the violation of airspace. Davutoğlu also called "his U.S., French, Italian and U.K. counterparts to evaluate the situation."

Russia's airstrikes in Syria began Wednesday. Moscow asserts it is targeting only Islamic State positions, but reports indicate Russia has also bombed rebel groups that oppose Russian ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

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British Ambassador to Turkey Richard Moore said "Russia's incursion into Turkish airspace is reckless and worrying. U.K., and its other NATO Allies, stand shoulder to shoulder with Turkey."

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