Turkey scrambles jet fighters to intercept Syrian warplane

January 07, 2014, Tuesday/ 17:11:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

Turkey scrambled two jet fighters to intercept a Syrian warplane approaching the border town of Yayladağı, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) announced on Tuesday.

In a statement the military said a Syrian SU-24 warplane turned back 3.1 nautical miles from the Turkish-Syrian border as Turkish F-16 fighters approached.

Last week the TSK also announced that Syrian missile systems repeatedly locked onto Turkish F-16 fighter jets on patrol in Hatay province.

“Two F-16 fighter jets performing a patrol on the Turkey-Syria frontier were harassed by Syrian missile systems that locked onto our jets eight times in five minutes and 10 seconds,” said the announcement published on the General Staff's website.

Turkey's military changed the rules of engagement on the Syrian border after the downing of a Turkish reconnaissance jet off Syria's Mediterranean coast in June 2012. Under the new rules, any Syrian military element approaching the border is considered a threat.

In September Turkey announced that acting under the new rules of engagement, a Turkish F-16 fighter shot down a Syrian Mi-17 helicopter after it crossed into Turkish airspace near the border town of Yayladağı. The Turkish military said that the Syrian helicopter had been repeatedly warned before it was shot down.

Ankara is a staunch opponent of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and supports the opposition currently fighting to topple the Syrian regime.

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