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Turkey restates warning over jets violating its skies

Turkish PM warned on Saturday that ‘whoever violates our borders, we will give them the necessary answer’

Published: Updated:

Turkey would not hesitate to shoot down military aircraft violating its air space, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said on Saturday, a day after the NATO member shot down an unidentified drone close to the border with Syria.

“We downed a drone yesterday. If it was a plane we’d do the same. Our rules of engagement are known. Whoever violates our borders, we will give them the necessary answer,” Davutoglu told a rally of his ruling AK Party in the central city of Kayseri.

A U.S. official told Reuters Friday that Washington suspected it was a Russian drone, but said the information was still preliminary and declined to give any more details.

Turkey had already complained of Russian warplanes violating its airspace and is still investigating where the drone came from on Friday.

However, the Russian defence ministry in a swift reaction said on Friday that all its planes in Syria had safely returned to base and all its drones were operating “as planned” after Turkish warplanes shot down the drone.

Russia to continue using drones

Meanwhile, Russia’s military said Saturday it is continuing to use drones over Syria despite Friday's incident.

“I would ... like to emphasize that Russian drones are continuing to monitor the situation in Syria’s skies,” spokesman Igor Konashenkov said, quoted by RIA Novosti news agency.

The latest Russian strikes used data from a drone to put two tanks and three ISIS infantry combat vehicles out of operation in Aleppo province, the Russian defence ministry said in a statement Saturday.

It said its latest strikes hit 49 targets, including a suicide bomber training camp.

Russia’s statement comes after its Defence Ministry said Friday it had established direct contact with the Turkish military to avoid incidents with flights near the border.

(With Reuters and AFP)