Syria has increased air strikes against the border town of Kassab in the governorate of Latakia, March 25. AA Photo
Syrian air missile batteries locked onto five Turkish F-16 patrolling
the Syrian border, the General Staff said in a statement March 25, two
days after Turkey downed a Syrian aircraft.
Turkish jets were
sent to the zone after four Syrian planes and helicopters approached
Turkish airspace across from Hatay where clashes have been ongoing
between government troops and groups close to al-Qaeda for five days.
they were flying over Hatay, our five F-16 jets were harassed 12 times
by SA-2, SA-5 and SA-17 surface-to-air missile systems deployed in
Syria, which locked onto them for 10 minutes and 53 seconds in total,”
the General Staff said.
The Turkish jets flew away while they
were at a distance of 1.6-2.7 nautical miles away from the Syrian border
and moved away from the region, the statement added.
Only a day
ago, on March 24, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said a Syrian missile
system “harassed” a Turkish fighter for more than four minutes.
General Staff also said in a statement that a similar incident occurred
on March 23, the same day Turkish fighter jets shot down a Syrian
warplane for allegedly violating Turkey’s airspace. Tensions have since
escalated between the neighboring countries as the army has deployed
armed vehicles on the frontier further east as officials mull a possible
operation to “protect” the tomb of Süleyman Şah, a crop of Turkish land
which is located 25 kilometers inside Syria’s borders.Syria bombs Kassab
Syria has increased air strikes against the border town of Kassab in
the governorate of Latakia, which was reportedly captured by groups
linked to al-Qaeda on March 23.
The strikes were visible from
the Turkish side of the border. Injured people were also brought to
hospitals in Hatay’s Yayladağı district.
Islamist rebel groups
are fighting government troops near the seaside tourist village of Samra
further west, activists said. The reports were also confirmed by the
British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Observers said if the rebels take Samra, the Syrian
government would lose coastline for the first time during the conflict.
Kassab is on the westernmost border between Syria and Turkey. The town has
a high Armenian population, and many in the town have expressed great
fear at the possibility of being slaughtered by the Islamists whom they
Populated mostly by Alawites, Latakia is considered to be the homeland of President Bashar al-Assad.