HATAY - Doğan News Agency
The Turkish Air Force shot down a Syrian helicopter on Sept. 16 at the border after the helicopter violated Turkish airspace, Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç said.
Turkish military aircraft taking off from a base in Malatya shot the M-17 helicopter after it allegedly continued to violate Turkish airspace despite repeated warnings, after which the chopper fell onto Syrian soil, Arınç said.
“It [The helicopter] violated Turkey’s border for two kilometers. It was repeatedly warned by air defense elements. Upon the continuation of the violation, it was determined that it fell into Syrian territory after being shot at 2.25 p.m. with a missile by our planes taking off from Malatya,” Arınç said.
The deputy prime minister said the initiative taken by the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) to shoot down the Syrian helicopter was based on the rules of engagement with Syria.
Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) also released an official statment after Arınç's remarks, confirming that Turkish jets had shot down the Syrian helilopter after it violated Turkish airspace.
The Syrian helicopter was followed and repeatedly warned by the Combined Control and Reporting Center (BİKİM) in Diyarbakır
after being detected 26 nautical miles from Turkish airspace at 1.41 p.m. on Sept. 16, the statement said. The helicopter then violated Turkish airspace, encroaching two kilometers (1.2 miles) into in Hatay's Yayladağ district while flying at around 14,200 feet, and landed on Syrian soil after being shot by two Turkish F-16 jets at 2.27 p.m., the TSK statement added.
Last year, a Turkish F-4 Phantom warplane crashed into the Mediterranean on June 22 after being shot down by Syria. The country’s rules of engagement changed after the incident. Turkish officials did not publicly announce details of the revised rules of engagement, but some reports claimed Turkish forces would fire on any Syrian forces approaching within five kilometers of the Turkish border on the Syrian side.
In October the same year, a shell killed five civilians in the Akçakale district of Şanlıurfa province. To protect Turkey, the United States, the Netherlands and Germany deployed batteries of ground-to-air NATO
Patriot missiles and hundreds of soldiers along the Syrian border in southern Turkey at the request of Ankara.