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Syria says downed helicopter was in Turkish airspace but 'not on combat mission'

Syria says downed helicopter was in Turkish airspace but 'not on combat mission'
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Syria has admitted that an army helicopter shot down by Turkish forces on Monday had crossed briefly into Turkish airspace, but insists it was not on a combat mission.

Syrian opposition activists say rebels captured one of the two pilots in Syrian territory.

Syria’s army claims the helicopter was monitoring “terrorists” crossing into the country and was on its way back when it was hit.

Turkey says the helicopter was repeatedly warned as two F-16 jets were scrambled along the border between its southern Hatay province and Syria.

Euronews asked a defence analyst in Istanbul whether this could escalate into a wider conflict between Turkey and Syria.

“This may cause a perception within the public that this will escalate into a larger conflict,” Atilla Sandıklı of the Bilgesam Research Center for Strategic Studies told our Turkey correspondent Bora Bayraktar. “This breach of the border will probably be reviewed by NATO officials and they may make a statement on that and may warn Syria not to repeat it again. So I don’t expect a retaliation by Syria.”

Damascus has accused Ankara of being “hasty” in attacking the aircraft.

It is the latest in a string of incidents along the 900-kilometre long border between the two countries.

Despite the civil war raging in Syria, so far none has led to a serious escalation of hostilities.

Turkey has boosted its defences, sending extra troops to the border in recent weeks.

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