Turkey Scrambles Warplanes, Says Syrian Copters ‘Close’ to Border

Cross-Border Tensions Remain High as Turkey Continues to Add to Defenses

by Jason Ditz, July 01, 2012

Syrian helicopter gunships have been launching attacks against rebel targets in the nation’s north for awhile, but today the tensions with Turkey are on the rise again, as Turkish warplanes have been deployed over claims that the helicopters were too close to the border with Hatay Province.

Syria and Turkey are longtime allies, but their relationship has worsened dramatically since the Free Syrian Army (FSA) began operating out of Turkish territory. The downing of a Turkish warplane by Syria just over a week ago has made the border a tense one indeed, and Turkey has been building up its defenses in the area ever since, nominally as a “warning” to Syria.

Turkish Prime Minister Reccep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to treat any “hostile movements” near the border as a military target, and Turkish officials have called on NATO to treat the shootdown as an attack on the entire military alliance.

Syria, for their part, has downplayed the seriousness to the border tensions, saying that the shootdown was the result of an airspace violation and that they didn’t know it was a Turkish plane. Syria’s present interests seem more internal, with a growing civil war, and they would likely prefer to keep Turkey out of it as much as possible.

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