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Turkey Says Russia Violated Its Airspace and Is Escalating Syria's Crisis

Meanwhile, Britain’s foreign minister Philip Hammond has said that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can remain in power until the war is over.
Imagen por Ivan Sekretarev/EPA

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Monday that Russia's entry into the conflict in Syria has escalated the crisis, and that Moscow has described its warplane's violation of Turkey's airspace as a "mistake."

A Russian aircraft entered Turkish airspace near the Syrian border on Saturday, prompting Ankara to scramble two F-16 jets to intercept it and summon Moscow's ambassador in protest, the foreign ministry said today.


Speaking in a live interview on HaberTurk TV, Davutoglu also said that Turkey's rules of engagement were clear, whoever violates its airspace.

Related: Videos Show Harrowing Aftermath of Alleged Russian Airstrikes in Syria

Turkey, which has the second-largest army in NATO, said the Russian jet entered Turkish airspace south of the Hatay region.

"(It) exited Turkish airspace into Syria after it was intercepted by two F-16s from the Turkish Air Force, which were conducting patrols in the region," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

President Tayyip Erdogan has criticized Russia's air strikes in Syria, launched last week, as a "grave mistake." Moscow says it aims to weaken the Islamic State (IS) group but Western powers see the actions as support for President Bashar al-Assad.

"Assad has committed state terrorism, and unfortunately you find Russia and Iran defending (him)," Erdogan was quoted by the Hurriyet newspaper as telling a crowd of supporters in Strasbourg, France, late on Sunday.

"Those countries that collaborate with the regime will account for it in history," he said.

The foreign ministry said it had summoned Moscow's ambassador to protest the violation and urged Russia against any repeat, warning that it would be held "responsible for any undesired incident that may occur."

Foreign Minister Feridun Sinirlioglu spoke with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov, as well as key NATO partners, the statement said.


"Russia's incursion into Turkish airspace is reckless and worrying. UK, and its other NATO allies, stand shoulder to shoulder with Turkey," British ambassador Richard Moore said on Twitter.

Russian incursion into Turkish airspace raises stakes in what is already a high risk situation. Call on — Philip Hammond (@PHammondMP)October 5, 2015

Meanwhile, while UK Prime Minister David Cameron condemned Russia for backing Assad, whom he called a "butcher," Britain's Foreign Minister Philip Hammond has said that Assad can remain in power until the war is over.

"If the price for doing that is that we have to accept that Assad will remain as titular head of state for period of time, do I really care if that's three days, three weeks, three months or even longer? I don't think I do," he told Reuters at this weekend's Conservative party conference in Manchester.

Related: Russian Airstrikes in Syria Could Last Four Months, Officials Say

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