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Turkey Scrambles F-16 Jets to Syrian Border

iStockphoto/Thinkstock (file photo)(ANKARA, Turkey) -- The relationship between Syria and Turkey became further strained on Saturday, when the Turkish Air Force scrambled six F-16 fighter jets following sightings of Syrian helicopters near the border between the two countries, Turkish military officials said.  

Authorities in Turkey say there was no violation of Turkish airspace.

The deployment follows Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s warning that his country had changed its rules of military engagement and would now treat any Syrian military approaching the border as a threat.

The change came after June 22, when Syrian forces shot down a Turkish jet in the border area.  In response, Turkey announced this past Friday it was deploying rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns in the region.

Syria says the Turkish F-4 jet was shot down by Syrian air defenses inside its airspace.  The plane crashed in the Mediterranean, and its pilots are still missing.  Turkey insists the jet was shot down in international airspace.

Turkey's government has been an outspoken critic of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s response to the 16-month uprising against his rule, which has resulted in more than 15,000 deaths and 30,000 Syrian refugees entering Turkey.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio