The Turkish Air Force began intensifying the protection of its territorial airspace by deploying warplanes to patrol the Turkish-Syrian border, following Russia’s deployment of state of the art air defense missile systems in Syria as a reaction to the downing of a Russian warplane by a Turkish F-16 on Nov. 24.
The Chief of General Staff announced that the Turkish-Syrian border is now being guarded by a record number of 18 F-16s.
Turkish authorities have also deployed 10 tanks to the southeastern province of Gaziantep, one day after the downing of the Russian fighter jet.
Local media sources reported that up to 60 more tanks were being deployed from western provinces to the southern border during the week.
An additional howitzer was also sent to the town of Yayladagi located in the province of Hatay, close to where the Russian jet was brought down.
Turkey’s intensification of its airspace protection also follows Russian President Vladimir Putin’s statement that Moscow plans to continue its military operations close to the Turkish border and send out high-tech air defense systems to Syrian bases.
On Nov. 25, Putin ordered the deployment of ultra-modern air defense missile systems to the Hmeimim air base in Syria’s coastal province of Latakia, located around 50 kilometers south of the border with Turkey, a position which can make Turkish jets easy targets.
He also gave orders to the military to take other measures that “should be sufficient to ensure flight safety.”
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated on Nov. 25 that the Russian missile cruiser Moskva had already been positioned closer to the shore in order to protect Russian aircraft missions near the Turkish-Syrian border with its long-range Fort air defense system.
Shoigu also announced that from now on, all Russian fighter jets will be accompanied by soldiers on their combat missions in Syria, adding that his ministry had cut all contacts with the Turkish military.
The US has been lately pressing Turkey to deploy thousands of additional troops along its border with Syria to completely close up the 98 kilometer-border line controlled by DAESH terrorist organisation.
A senior Turkish government official replied to US’s demands by saying that “Turkey is determined to clean Daesh from the 98 kilometers of border between Kilis and Jarabulus.”
“There is no need to receive any kind of warning or advice from anyone, including our US partners,” he continued.
US officials warned Ankara that it could face “significant blowback” from European powers if Turkey does not commit to fully shutting the border.
A senior US official said regarding Turkish authorities, “this is really a question of their border security, they need to step up their game when it comes to this and they can’t necessarily look to us to fortify their border for them. Paris is a wake-up call to them that this is a problem they don’t have under control.”