A Syrian helicopter that violated Turkish airspace has a been shot down by warplanes, Reuters reported Monday afternoon.
Turkey scrambled two F-16 jets after receiving word that a Syrian helicopter was approaching. The Syrian Mi-17 helicopter was detected 1.2 miles inside Turkish airspace, according to Deputy Prime Minister Bluent Arinc. Arinc told reporters that the helicopter
Was repeatedly warned by our air defense elements. When the violation continued, our planes . . . hit the helicopter with a missile causing it to fall on Syrian soil."
It is unknown whether the crew of the helicopter survived the crash. Arinc has said that Turkey will provide a full account of the incident to the UN Security Council and the NATO military alliance.
Turkey has been one of Bashar al-Assad's harshest critics, particularly as the two countries share a border. Turkey is currently providing shelter to a quarter of the two million people who have fled the Syrian conflict. Turkish government officials have advocated military intervention in Syria and have grown increasingly frustrated over what it is perceived to be growing indecisiveness among Western powers. Turkey has built up its military defenses and deployed additional troops along the southeastern border in recent weeks. After Syria shot down a Turkish jet in 2012, the country has increasingly felt on edge.