Turkish warplanes shot down a Syrian helicopter Monday after it violated Turkish airspace, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said. (Aamir Qureshi / AFP)
ANKARA — Turkish warplanes shot down a Syrian helicopter Monday after it violated Turkish airspace, Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said.
“[Monday] at 1420 (1120 GMT) an Mi-17 helicopter belonging to Syria violated the Turkish border in the Guvecci area of Yayladagi in Hatay province by 2 km,” Arinc told reporters in Ankara after a regular cabinet meeting.
“The Syrian helicopter was repeatedly warned by our air defense elements. When the violation continued, our planes ... hit the helicopter at 1425 hours with a missile causing it to fall on Syrian soil.”
Turkey has been one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s fiercest critics. It has advocated military intervention in Syria and grown frustrated over what it sees as Western indecisiveness.
Turkey, which shares a 900-kilometer border with Syria, is sheltering one quarter of the 2 million people who have fled the Syrian conflict.
In June 2012, Syrian air defenses downed a Turkish F-4 reconnaissance plane, claiming it had violated Syrian territorial waters.