The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) has rejected Moscow’s claims that Russian warplanes accidentally entered Turkish airspace over the weekend.
According to the Russian Defence Ministry, an Su-30 plane crossed the Turkish border from Syria for several seconds on Saturday, which Russia claimed was a mistake.
“This occurrence is the consequence of unfavorable weather conditions in this region,” the statement read. “There are no conspiratorial reasons to look for.”
However, NATO has rejected Russia’s explanation, with NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg saying the incident was unacceptable.
“For us this doesn’t look as an accident,” Mr Stoltenberg said. “This is a serious violation of the air space, and actually there were two violations during the weekend.”
“It’s unacceptable to violate the air space of another country and this is exactly what we were afraid of, that incidents, accidents may create dangerous situations… therefore, it is also important to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, and that’s also the reason why we sent this very clear signal.”
Russia has also denied reports that it had bombed Islamic State (IS) in the historic city of Palmyra, which has had numerous ancient structures destroyed since the militants captured it in May. Defence spokesman Major-General Igor Konashenkov claimed that IS may have staged bombings which it could then blame on Russian air strikes.
Russia began bombing what it claimed were IS targets in Syria last week, attracting criticism from the West and from Syrian activists, who allege that they in fact targeted moderate rebels opposed to the regime of Syrian president and Russian ally Bashar al-Assad.
“If it is [the rebel-held city of] Homs, which it seems to be, it is not Daesh (IS) that they are targeting, but probably opposition groups, which confirms that they are more in support of Bashar’s regime than in fighting Daesh,” a French security source said last week.
President Assad, who is the subject of numerous accusations of war crimes, has repeatedly refused to step down. – Jake Nelson
Top photo of a Russian plane taking off in Syria from Russian Ministry of Defence.