NATO Not Buying Russia's Turkish-Airspace Story

Turkey incursion was no accident, alliance's chief says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 7, 2015 5:07 AM CDT
NATO Alarmed by Russia's Syria Buildup
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg speaks during a media conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels on Tuesday.   (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)

Russia is rapidly stepping up its involvement in Syria, and NATO is worried—especially by Russian violation of Turkish airspace. NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg told reporters Tuesday that he doesn't believe Moscow's claim that the incursions on a NATO member's airspace were a mistake, reports Reuters. "Intelligence that we have received provides me with reason to say it doesn't look like an accident," Stoltenberg said, per CNN, adding the violation is "more dangerous" in the context of a Russian buildup of forces in Syria involving planes, ground troops, and "a large number of naval assets." The Turkish military says that in addition to incursions over the weekend, an MiG-29 fighter jet that was either Russian or Syrian interfered with eight Turkish jets along the Turkey-Syria border on Monday, placing them under radar lock for several minutes, CNN reports.

In Syria, American and Russian planes are now flying combat missions in the same country for the first time since World War II, raising fears that they could end up firing on each other, Reuters notes. On the ground, meanwhile, Syrian government forces backed by Russian planes have launched their first major offensive since Russian airstrikes began last week, the AP reports. Activists say that the "most intense fighting in months" is taking place in the northwestern provinces of Idlib and Hama, where the AP reports there is no ISIS presence, although the al-Qaeda-backed Nusra Front is active, along with US-backed rebel groups. (A top official in Moscow says Russian "volunteers" could appear in the Syrian army.)

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