NATO Expects Turkey to Exercise Greater Restraint on Syria

F-16 from the Turkish Air Force Some NATO officials talking to Today’s Zaman recalled that it was not first time that Syrian helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles have violated Turkish air space during their missions to attack the opposition targets. . . .

“We (NATO) are not of the opinion that Turkey deliberately shot down the Syrian helicopter to direct attention to the civil war at a time when the world was busy with the chemical weapons deal with Syria. Ankara used its right of self-defense when it downed the Syrian helicopter because it violated Turkish air space. The incident, however, coincided with the chemical weapons deal struck with Syria for their removal,” the same sources commented.

NATO sources in Ankara speaking to Today’s Zaman did not believe that the downing of the helicopter was pre-planned, but Ankara could still have avoided more tension with Syria, which might have retaliated in response to the escalating tension with Turkey.

NATO expects a higher level of restraint from Turkey since the alliance does not want the conflict to spillover,” they said.

On Sept. 23, a week after the Syrian helicopter went down, the Turkish military honored the personnel responsible for the shooting with a medal.

According to NATO sources, the medals were given to the Turkish air force personnel purely to convey a message to the public that the Turkish military is strong, powerful and ready to guard the Turkish borders.

Image: F-16 from the Turkish Air Force (photo: Department of Defense)