U.S. jets cross into Turkish airspace
( AP ) - Two U.S. jets appear to have crossed into Turkish airspace over the border with Iraq inadvertently, a U.S. Embassy official said Monday, adding that the incursion was under investigation.
The Turkish military reported on its Web site Sunday that two F-16 jets roamed into the Turkish airspace for four minutes on Thursday, over the region of Uzumlu, in the province of Hakkari which borders Iraq. It said it had informed the Turkish Foreign Ministry of the violation and had asked it to take the appropriate steps.
A U.S. Embassy official, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with embassy rules, said U.S. authorities had immediately started an investigation.
"At this point, it appears to be an inadvertent crossing into Turkish airspace and we will take action as appropriate once the finding is complete," the official said. "We respect Turkish airspace, we have good relations with Turkey and take the issue very seriously."
Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul on Monday played down the incident, saying such incursions occurred from time to time, NTV television reported.
The incursion occurred amid intensified debate in Turkey about whether to conduct a cross-border operation into northern Iraq to pursue separatist Kurdish rebels who stage attacks inside Turkey from bases there.
Turkish media have been reporting that the army was massing troops along the border, including in Uzumlu.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said this week he would back Turkey's generals if they decide to strike Kurdish rebels in Iraq.