Turkey has shot down a Syrian war jet after it violated Turkish airspace, the country’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Sunday.
Condemning Ankara’s actions, Damascus described the move as a ‘blatant aggression’, claiming the jet had been attacking rebel forces inside Syrian territory in the city of Kassab at the time of the attack.
Turkish TV reported the plane’s pilot was able to eject to safety in time before crashing on Syria’s side of the border.
At a rally in northwest Turkey, Erdogan warned such incursions would not be tolerated:
“If they (Syria) continue these violations our response, our slap in their face will be very hard. I would like to congratulate my chief of general staff and our pilots. I want to congratulate our air forces,” Erdogan said.
The latest incident follows last September’s downing of a Syrian helicopter after it also entered Turkish territory.
Once close allies, Turkey has become one of Syria’s fiercest critics since 2011 the uprising to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began.