Turkey PM says ‘only two’ Russia strikes aimed at IS

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu today said only two Russian air strikes in Syria had targeted Islamic State jihadists and warned that Ankara would not make any concessions about the security of its borders.

His comments came after Russian warplanes twice violated the airspace of key NATO member Turkey in the last days.

Davutoglu said only two out of 57 bombardments had targeted IS fighters with all the others targeting moderate rebels backed by Turkey and the United States.

He said in televised remarks that the figures were based on military intelligence Turkey had received.

“If there’s going to be a fight against Daesh, let’s do it together,” he said, using the Arabic name for the group.

Davutoglu warned against any operation targeting civilians and the Syrian opposition which he said could lead to a new refugee influx.

Russian aircraft also violated Turkish airspace on Saturday and on Sunday, prompting Ankara to summon the Russian envoy to the foreign ministry twice to protest the breach.

Also, Turkish F-16 jets carrying out reconnaissance flights on the Syrian border were harassed and put on radar lock by unidentified MIG-29 planes in the last days.

“We will not make any concessions in the context of our border and air space security,” Davutoglu said.

Davutoglu said Turkey’s airspace was naturally NATO airspace, urging Russia to respect his country’s border security while dismissing any tensions with its major trade partner.

“We do not want any tensions with Russia but as I say, it is our most natural right to expect Russia to be careful about Turkey’s airspace, borders and Turkey’s interests in Syria,” he added.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan also warned Russia yesterday against losing Turkey’s friendship, saying that Turkey cannot “remain patient” in the face of violations.

NATO has extended support for Turkey, with its chief Jens Stoltenberg accusing Moscow of deliberately breaching Turkish airspace.

The Russian ambassador “was invited” to the Turkish foreign ministry on Tuesday over the incursions, the Turkish foreign ministry said in a statement on Wednesday.

The envoy had already been summoned twice to hear Turkish protests over the Russian air incursions.

Ankara said it was ready to meet with Russian military authorities to listen to what sort of measures would be taken to prevent further violations, the ministry said.

Davutoglu also confirmed the meeting with the Russian ambassador, saying it came after divergences in information provided by the Russian authorities and intelligence on the ground over the incursions.