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Turkey Sends F-16s to Deter Syrian Helicopters Near Border

Turkey dispatched F-16 jets to warn off Syrian military helicopters approaching its border on three occasions yesterday, the military said.

Two of the incidents involved a Syrian helicopter coming as close as 2.5 miles to the Turkish border and in another incident as near as 2 miles, the military said in a statement on its website today. The Turkish jets were scrambled to Adana, Hatay and Kilis provinces in response to Syrian air movements, the military said.

New rules of engagement were introduced for the Turkish armed forces following the shooting down of an F-4 Phantom jet by Syrian air defenses on June 22. The rules mean that any Syrian forces approaching the border in what’s deemed a threatening manner can be attacked, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said last week.

While Turkey accepts the jet strayed into Syria, it says it was shot down while over international airspace. Syria says the Turkish jet violated its territory, though it termed the plane’s destruction an “accident.” The two-man crew is still missing.

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