Russo-Turkish confrontation in Syria
The Turco-Russian confrontation refers to a conflict between Turkey and, initially, the Syrian government which turned into a military crisis between Turkey and Russia after the November 2015 shoot-down of a Russian Air Force Su-24 by the Turkish Air Force after an alleged airspace violation. Increased Russian military aggression and hostile Turkish territorial responses have all contributed to increasing escalation. Aerial confrontations between two nations have grown more common. Turkey accuses Russian Forces of violating Turkish sovereign airspace and war crimes against Syrian Turkmens. The Russian military has accused Turkey of illegal economic ties with ISIS and planning a military intervention in Syria.
|Russo-Turkish confrontation in Syria|
|Part of the Spillover of the Syrian Civil War, Turkish involvement in the Syrian Civil War, and Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War|
Turkish Air Force F-16C flies an aerial superiority mission during Operation Allied Force on April 4, 1999
|Commanders and leaders|
|Casualties and losses|
- On 22 June 2012 Syrian Arab Army S-300 Russian made air defenses shot down a Turkish Air Force RF-4E reconnaissance fighter 15 miles off of the coast of Latakia over the Mediterranean Sea within international airspace several dozen minutes after it had briefly veered into Syrian air space prompting the Turkish Armed Forces to change its Rules of engagement formally declaring hostility towards any aircraft approaching the Turkish-Syrian border. This led to a great deal of future shoot-downs conducted by the Turkish Air Force. Both pilots were killed and an autopsy revealed the pilots survived the initial crash once the wreckage was located and the bodies were recovered. Alleged secret documents were leaked by the Syrian opposition to Al Arabiya, claiming that the two pilots had survived the shoot down, which was done in coordination with the Russian naval facility in Tartus, and were captured but later executed naturally with their bodies being returned to the crash site by Russian Special Operations teams.
- On 11 October 2012 acting upon intelligence received from the National Intelligence Organization, Turkish Air Force F-4 Terminator 2020s and F-16s intercepted a Syrian air lines airbus A320 flying from Moscow to Damascus over the Black Sea and forced it to land at Ankara Esenboğa Airport in Turkey. Upon an inspection by Gendarmerie troops the aircraft was found to be carrying munitions and weaponry to Syria using Turkish Airspace to transport items to the Syrian regime by way of civilian air travel. Russia claimed that items found were radio, radar and other technical equipment instead of military munitions. Russia further accused Turkey of endangering Russian lives while the Turkish ministry underlined that it had previously warned the international community of the alleged war crimes conducted and overseen by Russia.
- On 16 September 2013 Turkish Air Force F-16s shot down a Mi-17 helicopter belonging to the Syrian Army after it allegedly violated Turkish airspace up to 2 kilometers.
- On 23 March 2014 Turkish Air Force F-16s shot down a MiG-23 belonging to the Syrian Air Force
- On 3 October 2015 a Russian MiG-29 crossed into Turkish airspace and allegedly chased and harassed intercepting Turkish Air Force F-16s over the Syrian border for a total of four minutes before prompting the Turkish fighter jets to put the aggressing Russian aircraft on missile lock-on prompting them to discontinue harassment and change their flight course back to Syria immediately.
- On 3 October 2015 a Russian Air Force Su-30 crossed into Turkish Airspace over the Hatay Province and was intercepted by Turkish two F-16's that were patrolling the border in the vicinity. Russia claims the incident was a navigational error caused by bad weather and claimed lasted "a few seconds" while Turkish Military radar tracked the aircraft over several minutes and that the intruding aircraft put Turkish jets under missile lock for 5 minutes and 40 seconds prompting the Turkish fighters to respond in kind.
- On 4 October 2015 a Russian Air Force Su-24 crossed into Turkish Airspace over the Hatay Province hours after the first incident. Russia rejects this incident and says it would "look into it". A statement released from the NATO says these actions seem to be deliberate.
- On 4 October 2015 a MiG-29 either Syrian or Russian, was prevented from crossing into Turkish Airspace by at-least 8 Turkish F-16's on Combat air patrol duty. This sparked the unidentified aircraft to put one of the F-16's on missile lock while Syrian Air Defense SAM site installations on the ground put the rest of the Turkish combat jets on lock. The total incident lasted 4 minutes and 30 seconds.
- On 10 October 2015, three Turkish F-16s flying patrol missions near the Syrian border were put under missile lock by an unidentified MiG-29 resulting in a similar response to the hostile aircraft. Some sources suggest the aircraft was shot down by the Turkish Air Force, neither reports are confirmed nor denied while details of the incident remain unclear.
- On 16 October 2015, Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter jets on guard shot down an Orlan-10 Russian made drone that had crossed the border into Turkey, the drone was reportedly flying over the vicinity of Turkish Army troops deployed on the Syrian border.
- On 5 November 2015 the United States Air Force announced a short-term deployment of F-15C and F-15E for guarding and protection of Turkish airspace due to a hike in Russian military activity at the request of Turkey as a NATO member. The deployment was mainly a deterrent and did not have an actual combat role.
- On 24 November 2015 Turkish Air Force F-16Ds shot down a Russian Air Force Su-24 fighter-bomber after it allegedly violated Turkish Airspace over Hatay Province. The shoot down caused a crisis between the two nations.
- On 25 November 2015 following the Su-24 shootdown Russian defense ministry officials announced the immediate deployment of S-300 and S-400 Surface-to-air missile systems to the Khmeimim airbase near Latakia in Syria. The deployment made capable of hitting aerial targets within Turkish airspace. The deployment also briefly grounded Coalition Forces flying anti- ISIS missions.
- On 28 November 2015 following the deployment of Russian missile batteries, the Turkish Armed Forces announced it had deployed highly advanced KORAL Stand Off Jammers under presidential orders to the Syrian border. The Russian defense ministry analysts announced they were aware of the deployment and informed that the jammers have reduced the range of there missile systems by 20% which rendered the missiles incapable of hitting targets inside of Turkey. Russian defense ministry officials also explained the new deployment interfered with radar, data-links and limited navigational functions amongst Russian aircraft.
- On 6 December 2015 while a Russian navy warship was passing through the Bosphorus which bisects Istanbul a serviceman was seen brandishing an shoulder carried rocket launcher allegedly at the city center. Turkey has summoned the Russian attache over the incident in strong protest and threatened to close down the strait to all Russian traffic, military and civil which would cripple Russian military logistical supplies to Syria and heavily impact the Russian economy.
- On 8 December 2015 the Turkish Coast Guard under orders from the Turkish Naval Forces pulled over and boarded several Russian Navy warships in the Bosphorus. Upon inspections of an unspecified number of ships several millions of dollars in tickets were written.
- On 13 December 2015 a Russian warship in the Aegean Sea fired upon a Turkish fishing boat to allegedly avoid a collision. Russia summoned the Turkish military attache and warned Turkey would be responsible of any incident. The Turkish fishing boat allegedly came within 600 meters of the Russian ship.
- On 13 December 2015 after the previous Russian warship incident in the Agean sea a Turkish navy Tuzla class anti-submarine warfare patrol boat trailed the passage of the Kilo-class submarine belonging to the Russian navy through the Bosphorus strait.
- On 16 December 2015 the United States Air Force announced the withdrawal of F-15C and F-15E aerial superiority fighters from Incirlik Air Base in Adana near the Syrian border stating they were there to guard and provide short term protection of Turkish airspace but were not cleared to engage any threats unlike the Turkish Air Force which have a less tolerant Rules of engagement.
- On 18 December 2015 the Turkish Naval Forces denied 27 Russian ships access to pass through the Bosphorus strait blocking the passage of several commercial, cargo and military ships.
- On 23 December 2015 over 200 Turkish speaking mercenaries in Ukrainian army attire arrived in eastern Ukraine mainly in Donbass which has been in a state of conflict between Ukrainian troops and pro-Russian separatist militants. The Russian military dispatch a covert deployment of Turkish special forces operatives, mainly trainers and instructors, to advise and assist Ukrainian soldiers in the conflict.
- On 31 January 2016 a Russian Air Force Su-34 allegedly violated Turkish airspace according to the Turkish Armed Forces. The incident was confirmed by NATO and the Pentagon. Turkey claims warnings were issued in English and Russian not to enter airspace prior to the alleged violation. Turkey summoned the Russian envoy in harsh protest of the alleged violation and stated Russia would be responsible for any further unwanted incidents.
- On 1 February 2016 Turkey denied Russia an Open Skies Treaty flight scheduled from 1–5 February due to it being in close proximity of the Syrian border and would fly over Turkish Military positions. The modified An-30 spy plane was scheduled to fly out of Eskisehir Air Base in Turkey and down parallel to the Syrian border. The denial of the scheduled flight caused new tensions.
- On 5 February 2016 Russia announced it would be deploying Su-35 frontline fighters to be on guard 24/7 at the Khmeimim airbase as-well as escort Russian military aviation.
- On 14 February 2016 the Royal Saudi Air Force deployed 6 F-15 aerial superiority fighters to Adana, Turkey to boost coordination, cooperation and interoperability with the Turkish Air Force in joint military drills. The deployment increased existing tensions with Russia as-well as started to serve Incirlik Air Base for the Saudi Air Force to launch air-strikes on ISIS from the north.
- On 17 February 2016 Russia deployed a modified Tu-214 highly advanced reconnaissance aircraft to the Hmeymim Air Base in Syria.
- On 18 February 2016 a Turkish Navy CN-235 aircraft modified for Maritime patrol allegedly tracked the passage of a Russian Navy Buyan-class corvette and a Natya-class minesweeper from the Aegean Sea to the Mediterranean Sea south of Samos. The Turkish Navy aircraft allegedly did not have a filed flight plan while flying in international airspace.
- On 20 February 2016 Russia deployed 4 MiG-29 Fulcrums to the already existing 9 that were their and an unspecified number of Mi-8 medium transport helicopters to Erebuni Fortress in Armenia located just 40 kilometers from Turkey's Eastern border with Armenia and Iran. The deployment continued to increase already fuelled tensions between the two nations and came notably after the U.N. rejected a Russian draft proposal to halt Turkish shelling of SDF positions in Syria.
- On 24 February 2016 the Royal Saudi Air Force enforced its presence in Turkey's Incirlik Air Base near the Syrian border by sending 4 additional F-15C aerial superiority fighters increasing the total number of F-15's to ten and additionally sent 2 C-130 cargo planes full of technical equipment and 30 Saudi military engineers and technicians. The new set of deployments further increased tensions.
- On 18 March 2016 a statement from Vladimir Putin indicated an earlier announced withdrawal from Syria does not include a full withdrawal and that S-400 missile systems set up against Turkey, would remain in place.
- On 31 March 2016 in an unexpected act Turkish police detained the alleged killer of the pilot of shot down Su-24 in the coastal and major tourist attraction city of İzmir.
- On 1 April 2016 Russia accused Turkey of supporting various extremist groups in Syria with weapons. The allegation were dismissed by the Turkish officials stating Turkey is against all terrorist organizations but however it does support Turkmen rebels in which Russia considers extremists due to the fact of their nationalist nature. Turkish officials also accused Russian forces of systematically targeting Turkmen civilians.
- On 2 April 2016 in another unexpected turn of events Turkish and Russian officials agreed build monuments honoring the others fallen soldiers on their own soil from the 1877-1878 Russo-Turkish War
- On 4 April 2016 the Turkish Naval Forces sent two warships to the Ukrainian port city of Odessa in a recently hyped bilateral military cooperation between Turkey and Ukraine mainly focusing mainly on increasing military ties, although it was not seen as an act of aggression towards Russia, it did come unpleasant.
- On 13 April 2016 Turkish police arrested two suspected Russian secret agents over an assassination in Istanbul last November of a prominent figure from Russia’s restive Caucasus region of Chechnya once again building up tension between the two. Charges include Murder and Espionage. Turkish authorities allegedly have kept Russian consulate representatives from one of two court hearings.
- On 6 May prosecutors in Turkey decided to go against pressing charges against the alleged Turkish killer of the Russian Su-24 pilot shot down in Syria of November of last year.
- On 7 May 2016 Russia’s Ambassador to the United Nations Vitaly Churkin alleged that in front of the UN security council that chemical weapons in Syria were traced back to Turkey, which challenged an earlier statement by the Turkish Armed Forces that it did not possess any Weapon of mass destruction in its inventory.
- On 29 June 2016 Russian sanctions on Turkish tourism industry were lifted in a major sign of restoration of ties.
- In early July 2016 Turkey and Russia improved diplomatic relations and proposed to cooperate in fighting the Islamic State, with Turkey proposing Russia to use the Incirlik Air Base.
- On 9 August 2016 Intelligence, Diplomatic and Military ties were restored officially ending the crises with intent on further improving ties better than before.
On July 2016, the Turkish pilots who downed a Russian Su-24 were arrested in Turkey; according to a Turkish official both were arrested over links to a coup and not because of the downing of the Russian plane.
On December 2016 Andrei Karlov, the Russian ambassador to Turkey was killed by an off-duty Turkish police officer. The assassination took place after several days of protests in Turkey over Russian involvement in the Syrian Civil War and their role in the outcome of the battle over Aleppo.
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