Russian jets in Turkish airspace no accident: NATO chief

NATO's secretary-general on Tuesday rejected Moscow's claim that its military incursion into alliance airspace over Turkey wasn't intentional or important, saying there were two separate incidents and "the violation lasted for a long time."

PTI| Updated: Oct 06, 2015, 22:10 PM IST
Russian jets in Turkish airspace no accident: NATO chief

Brussels: NATO's secretary-general on Tuesday rejected Moscow's claim that its military incursion into alliance airspace over Turkey wasn't intentional or important, saying there were two separate incidents and "the violation lasted for a long time."

Turkey's military, meanwhile, said more of its jets patrolling the border with Syria were placed in a radar lock by Russian planes and surface-to-air missile systems. In Syria, Russian warplanes reportedly continued pounding targets in the country, where the Kremlin has come to the aid of beleaguered ally President Bashar Assad.

NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg told a news conference in Brussels that recent breaches of Turkish airspace by Russian warplanes were "very serious" even dangerous.

"It doesn't look like an accident, and we've seen two of them over the weekend," he added.

The latest Russian airstrikes in Syria, in cooperation with Syrian jets, struck targets in rural areas of the northern Aleppo province, targeting the towns of al-Bab and Deir Hafer, Syrian state TV reported, quoting a military official.

Both towns are controlled by the Islamic State group. The official also said IS bases were targeted in Palmyra and surrounding areas in the central Homs province, destroying 20 vehicles, three arms depots and three rocket launchers.

Meanwhile, the Syrian air force was said to have targeted areas in rural Latakia controlled by militants, with the military official reporting the death of at least 12 fighters, including two Turks, one Saudi militant from al Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, Nusra Front, and one Palestinian.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a monitoring group with a wide network of activists on the ground, said in the last 24 hours, Russia carried out at least 34 airstrikes in Palmyra and vicinity, areas controlled by IS.

Airstrikes also were reported in the rural part of the city of Raqqa, the group's de facto capital. The Observatory said at least 19 IS members were killed, including four in Raqqa in an airstrike that hit two vehicles and an arms depot.

In Palmyra and its boroughs, the airstrikes were said to have killed 15 IS militants, struck 10 vehicles and an arms depot.

In a statement, NATO spokeswoman Carmen Romero said Stoltenberg later confirmed that NATO generals would be contacting their Russian counterparts about the violation of Turkish airspace.

"It's unacceptable to violate the airspace of another country," Stoltenberg told reporters. He said NATO is expressly worried that such acts by the Russians could have unforeseen consequences.