Turkey is trying to conceal its illegal military activity on the border with Syria and has canceled an agreed Russian observation flight over its territory because of that, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.
“Such steps carried out by a country, which is a NATO member state, in no way contribute to the strengthening of trust and security in Europe,” Major General Igor Konashenkov, Defense Ministry spokesman, told the journalists at briefing in Moscow.
Konashenkov called the cancelation of the Russian observation flight over Turkish territory “a dangerous precedent and an attempt to conceal illegal military activity near the border with Syria.”
The violation of the Open Skies Treaty by Ankara won’t go without a proper response from Moscow, he said.
Konashenkov also said Russia has boosted all kinds of intelligence and surveillance activities in the Middle East.
“So if someone in Ankara thinks that the cancelation of the flight by the Russian observers will enable hiding something then they’re unprofessional.”
The spokesman reminded that 32 foreign observation flights took place in Russian air space in 2015, in accordance with the treaty, with four of them carried out by Turkish observers.
The earlier agreed observation flight over Turkish territory was canceled on February 3, after Russian experts revealed the route, which would have included airfields and areas near the Turkish-Syrian border.
The spokesman recalled that Moscow had previously provided the international community with irrefutable video evidence of Turkish artillery firing on Syrian populated areas in the north of Latakia Province.
Turkey is also supplying manpower and weaponry to terrorists in the Syrian cities of Idlib and Aleppo, Konashenkov said.
The spokesman showed the media a photo of the Reyhanli checkpoint, saying that “through this very border crossing – mainly at nighttime – the militants, who seized the city of Aleppo and Idlib in northwestern Syria, are being supplied with arms and fighters from the Turkish territory.”
The terrorists in northern Syria are suffering losses and retreating to the Turkish border, the Defense Ministry spokesman said.
According to Konashenkov, terrorist commanders have made major efforts to evacuate injured fighters and regain control of their units.
Turkish airspace violation claims ‘poorly-orchestrated provocation’
Russia still hasn’t received any data from Turkey concerning the alleged incident with the Russian warplane, which Ankara accused of violating its airspace, Konashenkov said.
“Just a few minutes ago, another Turkish official said the data was passed to Moscow… No materials were passed to us by either military or diplomatic channels,” he stressed.
The spokesman said that false statements from the Turkish side “once again confirm that the whole story of the alleged violation of Turkish airspace was made up and is a poorly-orchestrated provocation.”
Turkey claimed that a Russian Su-34 fighter-bomber violated its airspace on January 29, which was immediately denied by Moscow.
Relations between Russia and Turkey have been strained since November 24 last year, when Turkish Air Force downed a Russian Su-24 bomber for allegedly violating its airspace.
The incident, in which one Russian pilot was killed, saw Moscow imposing a set of sanctions on Turkey and boosting the security of its Khmeimim airbase in Syria with S-400 missile systems.
Russian aviation has been carrying out airstrikes against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), Al-Nusra Front and other terrorist groups in Syria since September 30 at the request of President Bashar Assad.
The Russian Air Force carried out 237 sorties and hit nearly 900 terrorist targets in Syria on February 1-4, Konashenkov said.
The airstrikes took place on Aleppo, Latakia, Homs, Hama and Deir ez- Zor provinces.