Turkish jets shoot down Syrian warplane

Turkey, once an ally of Syria, shot down a Syrian warplane Sunday after it violated Turkey's airspace. Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan thanked the Turkish military for protecting the border.

Ahmad Rif/Reuters
Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan addresses the crowd during an election rally in Antakya, in the southern border province of Hatay, March 22.

Turkish fighter jets shot down a Syrian warplane after it violated Turkey's airspace Sunday, Turkey's prime minister said, in a move likely to ramp up tensions between the two countries already deeply at odds over Syria's civil war.

A spokesman for Syria's military confirmed the incident, saying the plane was downed in Syrian airspace while attacking rebels. The unnamed spokesman quoted on Syrian state TV called the act a "blatant aggression," and said the pilot safely ejected from the aircraft.

Turkey, once an ally of Syria, has emerged over the past three years as one of the main backers of Syrian opposition fighters trying to remove President Bashar Assad from power.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, speaking at a rally in northwestern Turkey ahead of local elections on March 30, congratulated the Turkish military for protecting the border.

"If you violate our border, our slap will be hard," he said.

According to Turkish news reports, the jet went down in a buffer zone along the border near an area where fighting has spiked in recent days. Syrian government troops are trying to retake a border crossing point with Turkey near the town of Kassab that rebels captured Friday.

This is not the first time that the Turkish military has downed a Syrian aircraft near the border.

In September, a Turkish fighter jet shot down a Syrian military helicopter after it entered Turkish airspace. The helicopter strayed 2 kilometers (more than 1 mile) into Turkish airspace, but crashed inside Syria after being hit by missiles fired from the jet, Turkish officials said at the time.

Turkey changed its rules of engagement in 2012 after Syria shot down a Turkish military plane, declaring that any Syrian military element approaching the Turkish border would be treated as a legitimate target.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.