Turkey on Tuesday warned that it would no longer tolerate or leave unreciprocated security threats from Syria along its borders.
Addressing members of Parliament from his ruling Justice and Development Party (AK Party) in capital Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Syria's downing of a Turkish military aircraft opened a new phase in Turkey-Syria relations, and "it is now clear that [Syrian President Bashar] Assad's regime has become a clear and present danger to Turkey's security."
Noting that from now onwards Turkey would no longer tolerate any menacing threats from the Syrian side, he said any approaching military offensive from the Syrian side would be regarded as a threat to the Turkish military.
"The rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed. Any military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria by posing a security risk and danger will be regarded as a threat and treated as a military target," Turkish media quoted him as telling the lawmakers.
"However valuable Turkey's friendship is, its wrath is just as strong. Don't take our common sense and cautious approach as a sign of passivity," Erdogan said.
Turkey on Sunday said its military jet was shot down outside of Syrian territorial waters and dismissed that country's statements that it was not a hostile act.
Stating that the downing of the jet by Syria has nothing to do with a violation of Syria's airspace, Erdogan said Turkey's airspace had been violated by other countries 114 times since January 1 of this year. "Syrian helicopters also violated our air space five times recently. We warned them to leave. Syria's position is also clear evidence that our jet was hit in a hostile act. Syria attacked the second rescue plane with harassing fire and this is proof that the act was deliberate," he added.
Erdogan also lashed out at the Syrian administration and reiterated support for the Syrian Opposition. "The Syrian administration is tyrannical and not just," he said.
"Turkey will be in solidarity with our brothers in Syria until a new regime is in place," Erdogan said and offered all possible support "to liberate the Syrians from dictatorship."
by RTT Staff Writer
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