Turkey issued a border warning to Syria, and warned of tougher rules of military engagement Tuesday, as NATO condemned Syria’s shooting down of a Turkish jet, Al Jazeera reported.
In a speech to parliament in Ankara, the Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, threatened a military response against Syrian forces approaching the Turkish border.
“Every military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria in a manner that constitutes a security risk or danger would be considered as a threat and would be treated as a military target,” Erdogan said.
“From here onwards, we warn the Syrian regime not to make any mistakes, not to test Turkey’s decisiveness and wisdom.”
Erdogan’s comments come as NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen, speaking after an emergency meeting between alliance members in Brussels, described the downing of the jet on Friday as unacceptable, Reuters reported.
“We … condemn it in the strongest terms,” Rasmussen said. “The security of the alliance is indivisible, we stand together with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity.”
Damascus has maintained that the F-4 Phantom jet, which crashed into the Mediterranean, was shot down inside Syrian airspace – but Ankara insists it was 13 nautical miles away, and has branded the incident an “act of aggression.”
While Turkey has said the shooting down of the plane will “not go unpunished”, deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc said the country was not seeking a military response, the BBC reported.
Today’s NATO meeting came at the request of Ankara, and marks only the second time in 63 years that alliance members have met under Article 4 of the NATO charter, under which a country can request consultation if it feels its security is threatened.