Turkey shoots down Syrian helicopter

Ankara, Sep 17 : Turkish warplanes Monday shot down a Syrian helicopter in the border region between the two countries after the helicopter allegedly violated Turkish airspace, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said.

"Today an MI-17 helicopter belonging to Syria violated the Turkish border in the Guvecci area of Yayladagi in Hatay province by two km," Xinhua reported quoting Arinc as saying here.

After repeated warnings, the Turkish military aircrafts shot down the MI-17 helicopter with a missile, he added.

According to a statement released by the Turkish army, the Syrian military helicopter violated Turkish airspace when two Turkish fighter jets were patrolling the area.

After repeated warnings to the helicopter, one of the F-16 jets shot down the helicopter over the Turkish territory but it crashed nearly one km deep into the Syrian side.

Earlier reports said Syrian opposition fighters shot down the helicopter and killed two pilots.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu called the move a "punishing operation", and stressed that Turkey would not accept any violation of its borders.

The Syrian government has not commented on the helicopter crash yet.

Sharing 910-km-long border with Syria, Turkey hosts about 200,000 Syrian refugees in camps and has been a staunch supporter of Syrian opposition fighters.

--IANS (Posted on 17-09-2013)

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