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Erdogan Says Turkey Does Not Want Escalation With Russia

by AFP
Behrouz Mehri—AFP

Behrouz Mehri—AFP

Turkish leader says there were no I.S. elements in the downed Russian plane’s flight-path.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Wednesday said Turkey did not want any escalation with Russia over its downing of a Russian plane on the Syrian frontier but vowed to always defend Turkish borders.

“We have no intention to escalate this incident. We are just defending our security and the rights of our brothers,” Erdogan said in a televised speech in Istanbul. “Turkey has never favored tensions and crisis, it has and will always favor peace and dialogue,” said Erdogan. But he added: “No one should expect us to remain silent when our border security and our sovereignty are being violated.”

Turkey said it shot down the Russian warplane after it repeatedly violated air space above the Turkish border. Moscow however insists that the plane never strayed from Syrian air space.

Erdogan said that the incident early on Tuesday showed “what kind of consequences careless steps could have.” He revealed that two Turkish citizens were wounded by pieces of the Russian plane that fell on the Turkish side of the border.

The president dismissed Russian claims that the plane had been on an anti-terror mission against Islamic State jihadists in northern Syria, saying that the area was populated by Syria’s Turkmen minority. “No one should ever fool themselves: There are no Daesh elements in the Bayirbucak region where Turkmen live,” said Erdogan.

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