The Turkish air force on Saturday shot down a Syrian military aircraft that violated the country’s airspace Saturday, Turkey’s defense minister said.
Turkey scrambled F-16 fighter jets after the plane entered Turkish airspace twice, Hurriyet Daily News reported. The fighter aircraft fired two missiles at the Syrian aircraft, a Turkish military source told the news site.
“A Syrian helicopter was downed that violated the border for a period of five minutes within a seven mile (11 kilometer) limit,” Defense Minister Ismet Yilamz was quoted as saying by the Dogan news agency after Syrian reports indicated the aircraft was a reconnaissance drone.
Turkey’s NTV news station quoted eyewitnesses saying that the aircraft crashed on the Syrian side of the border.
“The area is currently being searched for the crashed aircraft,” a Turkish source told Hurriyet. “It would soon be seen if it was a plane or a helicopter.”
According to local witnesses, the Syrian craft crossed over the Dursunlu-Emek area in the country’s southern border province of Hatay.
Saturday’s incident was the latest downing of a military aircraft near the Turkey-Syria border since the outbreak of the Syrian civil war in 2011.
A Turkish F-4 Phantom warplane crashed into the Mediterranean after being shot down by Syrian government forces in June 2012. In September 2013, the Turkish Air Force downed a Syrian helicopter along the border after it violated Turkey’s airspace. Turkish fighter jets also downed a Syrian jet on March 23, 2014 after it crossed into Turkish airspace.