Turkish Jets Shoot Down Syrian Chopper

A single helicopter isn’t something Assad can afford to lose

Turkish Jets Shoot Down Syrian Chopper Turkish Jets Shoot Down Syrian Chopper

Uncategorized September 16, 2013 0

Turkish f-16s on Oct 19. 2011. Air force photo Turkish Jets Shoot Down Syrian Chopper A single helicopter isn’t something Assad can afford to... Turkish Jets Shoot Down Syrian Chopper
Turkish f-16s on Oct 19. 2011. Air force photo

Turkish Jets Shoot Down Syrian Chopper

A single helicopter isn’t something Assad can afford to lose

The Syrian civil war has spilled over into Turkey again — with Turkish F-16 fighter jets chasing after and shooting down a Syrian helicopter.

The downed helicopter appears to have been a Syrian Mi-17 Hip, according to Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Ar?nç. These helicopters are numerous within the Syrian armed forces and active in northern Syria. The episode took place at 4:00 p.m. local time on Sept. 16 in the southern province of Hatay, near Güveççi.

According to Ar?nç, at least two F-16s were scrambled to intercept the chopper as soon as it was detected nearing the border. The helicopter then crossed the border, heading two kilometers deep into Turkey before it was shot down by the F-16s — reportedly with a missile.

David Cenciotti, an aerospace journalist who blogs at The Aviationist, has been following statements from the Turkish military and has published a radar track of the incident. He’s also kept a running tally on border incidents involving Syria and surrounding countries.

In June 2012, a Turkish RF-4E Phantom reconnaissance jet was downed by a Syrian air defense unit. As recently as Sept. 2, the Syrian regime launched two Su-24 attack planes towards Cyprus to probe the British air base’s defenses; the aircraft turned back to Syria, after RAF Typhoons and Turkish Air Force F-16s were scrambled to intercept them.

It’s not known why the helicopter veered so far into Turkey. But the loss of a single helicopter is a problem for Bashar Al Assad. The Mi-17 is the only lifeline for several Syrian loyalist units trapped in the country’s north — often under siege and cut-off from supplies except by air. Syrian rebel forces frequently fire at the helicopters while they drop supplies by parachute to the isolated troops.

Earlier in September, a video appeared online of rebels firing at an Mi-17 attempting to relieve the siege on loyalist troops near the northern city of Raqqa. Three packets of supplies are seen being dropped before the helicopter scuttles away.

If rebels are able to starve these outposts into submission, the rebels can free up resources and troops for other fights — a scenario the regime desperately wants to avoid.

David Cenciotti contributed to this article.