Turkish PM says downed drone Russian-made

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu says drone shot down by Turkey along Syrian border last week was Russian-made

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

A still photograph used in a video shows a downed drone in Deliosman Village, Turkey October 16, 2015.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has stated a drone that was shot down by the Turkish military along the Syrian border on Friday after it entered Turkish airspace was made in Russia.

The incident took place following two Russian incursions into Turkish airspace earlier this month after Russian fighter jets began a campaign of air strikes against ISIS and opposition forces in Syria, in support of the embattled leader of the Syrian regime, Bashar al Assad.

Speaking in an interview with Turkish television channel AHaber on Monday, Prime Minister Davutoglu said, "The downed drone is Russian-made but Russia has told us in a friendly manner that it doesn't belong to them."

At the same time, Davutoglu suggested the drone may have belonged to the Assad regime or the Kurdish PYD operating along the border region.

"This incident...has shown that Turkey both has the capacity and the political will to put an end to such violations," Davutoglu added, referring to the previous incursions.

"I hope Russia, whose friendship and neighbourliness we value, will adopt a more careful stance and Turkish-Russian relations will not be negatively affected."

The recent Russian incursions have strained formerly strong ties between Ankara and Moscow, with Turkey having summoned Russia’s envoy to Ankara, warning Moscow to be careful not to lose Turkey as a friend.

Despite their friendly relations, however, Turkey and Russia have been at odds in the Syrian conflict. While Turkey has stood firm in its stance against the Assad regime, Russia has continued to back Assad since the beginning of the conflict in 2011.

According to media reports on Monday, another drone believed to be Russian crashed in Aleppo near the Turkish border. At present, it is not clear if the drone was brought down by a technical glitch or if it was shot down by Syrian opposition forces.

Opposition receives US arms

Meanwhile, three opposition groups affiliated to the Free Syrian Army told the Reuters news agency on Monday that they had received new supplies of US-made TOW anti-tank missiles from countries seeking to topple Assad.

The supplies came as Assad’s regime forces backed by Iranian ground troops and Lebanese Hezbollah militants mount an offensive to reclaim territories under opposition control in Aleppo, Syria’s largest city.

However, one unnamed opposition official told Reuters the supply was not sufficient to fight off the offensive, which is also being supported with Russian air strikes.

"A few [TOW missiles] will not do the trick. They need dozens," the official said on the condition on anonymity.

A Free Syrian Army commander based in Aleppo, Issa al-Turkmani, also confirmed the supplies had arrived, saying, "We received more supplies of ammunition in greater quantities than before, including mortar bombs, rocket launchers and anti-tank [missiles]."

"We have received more new TOWs in the last few days ... We are well-stocked after these deliveries," he was quoted saying by Reuters.

Rami Abdulrahman, the head of the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), said fighting in Aleppo had caused 3,000 families to flee their homes and seek refuge in safer parts of the province.  

Regime forces have also captured the town of al-Sabeqiya in the south of Aleppo and killed 41 opposition fighters, including a commander from the Nour al Din al Zinki Brigades opposition group, Abdulrahman said.

The SOHR chief added that opposition fighters in Aleppo had destroyed at least 11 regime tanks with the TOW missiles since Friday, adding the regime had not made any major gains on Monday.

According to the Russian Defence Ministry, 49 positions belonging to ISIS militants in the provinces of Aleppo, Damascus, Idlib, Latakia and Hama, as well as a Nusra Front command point in Idlib were hit with 33 sorties on Monday.

Russia insists that its air strike campaign targets ISIS militants, but the US has previously raised concerns that the majority of targets being hit do not belong to ISIS and include US-backed opposition groups.

On Sunday it was reported that 48 members of one family, including woman and children, were killed in a Russian air strike in the Homs province as they were seeking shelter. According to SOHR, a total of 72 people, including 31 children, were killed in Homs over the weekend.

An estimated 250,000 people have died in the four-and-a-half-year-long Syrian conflict, mostly from barrel bombs dropped by regime helicopters on civilian areas. Half the country’s population has also been displaced both internally and externally, leading to the worst refugee crisis since World War II.

TRTWorld and agencies