Erdogan slams Syria over plane incident, NATO condemns
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that the Turkish army will respond to any future violation of its border by the Syrian forces. The announcement comes against a backdrop of tensions between the two countries after a Turkish fighter plane was shot down Friday by Syrian forces.
"The rules of engagement of the Turkish armed forces have changed," said Erdogan. "Any military approach to the Turkish border from Syria, posing a risk and a danger in terms of safety, will be considered a threat and treated as a military target," he said.
According to the Turkish leader, Syrian helicopters had violated his country's airspace five times recently, but Turkey has not responded.
Syria insists the Turkish aircraft violated its airspace. According to Ankara, the aircraft inadvertently strayed into the airspace of Syria, but it was in international airspace when its was shot down.
Meanwhile on Tuesday, NATO held a meeting in Brussels at the request of Turkey, as part of this incident. Secretary General of NATO, Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the incident as unacceptable, adding that NATO condemns it "in the strongest words." He also expressed solidarity with Ankara, but without mentioning a retaliatory action.
Diplomats said the meeting took place in the context of Article 4 of the North Atlantic Treaty. This section allows member countries "to consult together whenever one of them believes the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened".