Army downed Syrian helicopter 'according to rules of engagement,’ Turkish PM says

Army downed Syrian helicopter 'according to rules of engagement,’ Turkish PM says

Army downed Syrian helicopter according to rules of engagement,’ Turkish PM says

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan briefly commented on the army's action against a Syrian helicopter that violated Turkey’s airspace during a joint press conference with visiting Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Ankara on Sept. 17. DAILY NEWS photo, Selahattin SÖNMEZ

The government has provided the Turkish army with the authority to act according to the rules of engagement in the event of any border violation, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said today in regard to the military’s downing of a Syrian helicopter the previous day.

Asked by reporters if the army had informed the government about the Syrian helicopter’s violation before taking the decision to shoot it down, Erdoğan said the military was instructed to execute the rules of engagement.

“We have given our Armed Forces authority in certain areas. With respect to the Syrian issue, we have carried out a delegation of authority in terms of the rules of engagement,” Erdoğan said during a joint press conference in Ankara with visiting Pakistani counterpart Nawaz Sharif.

“We had stated before that the rules of engagement would be implemented. There was a border violation of up to two kilometers,” Erdoğan said, emphasizing that the Syrian pilots had not changed the helicopter’s course despite repeated warnings. 

“When the warnings were not heeded, the Turkish Armed Forces executed the rules of engagement,” he said.

Before Erdoğan, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu had said that the army conducted a “punitive action” that was justifiable both in terms of international justice and the rules of engagement.

Obama says UN Security Council is paralyzed

During the press conference, Erdoğan repeated his position that the international community should not ignore the deaths caused by the use of conventional weapons in Syria.

“We are only acting in terms of the use of chemical weapons. Why? Using chemical weapons is a crime, but using conventional weapons is as much of a crime. The death of nearly 110,000 people is ignored and only the deaths of the 1,700 who have been murdered with chemical weapons are mentioned,” Erdoğan said.

“It is virtually a question of genocide. Seven million people were forced to migrate … But the world does not see any of this,” he said.

Erdoğan also relayed that U.S. President Barack Obama told leaders during the G-20 Summit in the former imperial Russian capital of St. Petersburg two weeks ago that the United Nations Security Council had become paralyzed. 

“However, fixing this paralyzed structure is probably the task of the U.N. Security Council members,” he said.

Ankara cautiously welcomed a U.S.-Russian agreement on a plan to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons and has stressed that the deal should not be perceived as a “final solution” to the Syrian conflict.