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Turkish warplanes shoot down Syrian helicopter

Published: Updated:

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said a Syrian plane was detected two kilometers (1.2 miles) inside Turkish airspace at 2:20pm (1120 GMT).

“It was continuously warned by our air defense but as the violation continued, it fell on Syrian soil, having been hit by missiles from our planes,” he added, according to statements carried by Agence France Presse.

Turkey scrambled two F-16 jets along the border between its southern Hatay province and Syria after warning the Mi-17 helicopter it was approaching Turkish airspace shortly before 14:30 (1130 GMT), the military said in a statement according to Reuters.

“Turkey will definitely not allow any violation of its borders ... We will defend our borders and our people's security to the end,” Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told reporters in Paris.

“No one will have the nerve to violate Turkey's borders in any way again," he said after a meeting to discuss Syria with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and their French counterpart Laurent Fabius.

He said he will provide the U.N. Security Council and the NATO military alliance with details of Monday's shooting.

Syria's army said on Monday that Turkey had been “hasty” in shooting down a Syrian helicopter after it entered Turkish airspace and accused Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government of trying to escalate tensions along the border.

“The hasty response from the Turkish side, especially as the aircraft was on its way back and was not charged with any combat missions, is proof of the true intentions of Erdogan's government toward Syria to increase tensions and escalate the situation on the border between the two countries,” Syria's armed forces said in a statement reported by the state news agency SANA .

Turkey, one of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's fiercest critics, has advocated military intervention in Syria and grown frustrated over what it sees as Western indecisiveness.

The country shares a 900-km border with Syria and is sheltering a quarter of the 2 million people who have fled the Syrian conflict.

Following Syria's downing of a Turkish jet in 2012, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said the military's rules of engagement had changed and that any Syrian element approaching the border would be deemed a threat and be treated as a military target Reuters reported.

Turkey is hosting six NATO Patriot missile batteries meant to defend it against any attacks from Syria.