Greece: Numerous airspace violations by Turkey in Aegean region
Greece has accused Turkey of carrying out several airspace violations as NATO prepares to launch a patrol in the Aegean to monitor human trafficking routes. (Flickr)
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Turkish military planes have violated Greece's airspace over the Aegean islands multiple times, Greek media reports say.
According to the state-run Athens News Agency, six Turkish fighter jets and a navy transport plane carried out over 20 airspace violations in the vicinity of eastern and central Aegean islands.
According to the report, two of the war planes were armed and twice engaged in mock dogfights with Greek planes that had scrambled to intercept them.
Greece and Turkey, both NATO members, are engaged in a dispute over territorial and airspace ownership in the Aegean. In 1996, the two countries almost came to war over a cluster of uninhabited islets in the region.
The violation occurred as NATO prepares to launch naval patrols in the waters separating both countries in an attempt to ward off human smuggling vessels ferrying large numbers of refugees and asylum seekers into Europe.
Athens has in the past voiced fears that Ankara could exploit the refugee crisis to bolster its military presence in the Aegean.
In 2015, over a million asylum seekers gained access to European shores via the Aegean, while many perished during the perilous voyage.