(ANKARA, Turkey) -- Still reeling over the shoot-down of one of its war jets last week, Turkey has since deployed anti-aircraft batteries on its border with Syria.
While such action suggests Ankara is preparing for an armed conflict with its neighbor, a Turkish military spokesman insisted on Thursday that the positioning of heavy artillery was purely for defensive purposes only.
However, the spokesman didn't underplay the downing of the aircraft by Syria, even as Damascus insisted it was an accident.
The Turkish military official added that Syrian helicopters had strayed into his nation's airspace last month and under the new rules of engagement instituted by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the Turkish army can fire on Syrian forces that approach its border.
The shoot-down of the Phantom F-4 has heightened tensions between Ankara and Damascus.
Relations between Erdogan and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began to falter when Syrian forces started their crackdown on anti-government forces 16 months ago. Since then, Turkey has expelled Syria's ambassador and closed down its own mission in Damascus.
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