DIPLOMACY >Turkey, Russia in contact in aftermath of alleged Syrian strike on Turkish forces

Deniz Zeyrek - ANKARA

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Ankara has spoken with the Russian military to probe a reported Syrian air strike that killed four Turkish soldiers on Nov. 24, the first anniversary of Turkey’s downing of a Russian jet along the border with Syria.

While the attack prompted initial suspicions of an attempt to bring Turkey and Russia face to face again in Syria, one year after the jet incident that severely harmed the relations between the two, Russia adopted a cooperative attitude and assured Turkey via communication channels established as part of recent rapprochement initiatives that the strike was not carried out by them. 

When Turkish authorities argued that the base from which the jet took off from in Aleppo was under Russian control, Moscow said they would further probe the incident before again contacting Turkey to notifythem that the attack was conducted by a Syrian Albatros plane.  

Turkey’s initial response after the air strike was to scramble two jets at İncirlik Air Base. The jets entered Syrian airspace, heading to the scene of the incident to face the jets, only to find that the warplanes had departed.

In Ankara, meanwhile, authorities briefed the prime minister and the president over the incident, assuring them of Russian cooperation.

The fact that the attack came on the first anniversary of the Russian jet crisis might not be a coincidence, as Syria’s army might be attempting to sow divisions between Russia and Turkey. 

If Turkey heightens the friction with Syria due to the attack, it may be forced to open a new front in the region, in addition to its existing ones against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) and Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD). And in such a case, it would face Russia as a belligerent state.  

Such friction with Syria and Russia may dim the effect, in the long run, of Turkey’s aerial support for the Euphrates Shield operation.

The Turkish Armed Forces will probe all the tangible data over the deadly incident. If it finds that Russia was behind the attack, moves will be made through diplomatic means. After the government acquires solid information about the attack’s perpetrators, a timely response will be given, officials have said.


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