Syria has banned any Turkish civilian flights from passing over its territory, the country’s state news agency announced on Saturday. Damascus said the move, which comes just days after Turkey grounded a Syrian passenger plane, was “retaliatory”.
Syria has banned Turkish passenger flights from Syrian airspace from midnight (2100 GMT) Saturday, state news agency SANA said, citing the foreign ministry.
The decision, “in accordance with the principle of reciprocity”, was in retaliation for Turkey’s decision to stop Syrian civil aviation flights over its territory, SANA said.
The Turkish government has not announced a similar ban for Syrian civilian aircraft.
However, Turkish jets forced a Syrian passenger plane en route from Moscow to Damascus to make an emergency landing in Ankara on Thursday on suspicion it was carrying weapons.
Both Damascus and Moscow denied the claim, and the plane was allowed on Friday to continue on its journey.
Syria’s decision to close its airspace to Turkish planes comes amid escalating tensions between the two countries after sporadic cross-border skirmishes in recent weeks.
On Saturday Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called for reform of the UN Security Council to help resolve the crisis, since Russia and China have repeatedly used their veto powers to block resolutions condemning Syria.
“It’s time to change the structure of international institutions, starting with the UN Security Council,” Erdogan told reporters, calling for “wider, fairer and more effective representation”.
“By failing to implement an effective policy towards events in Syria, the Security Council is rapidly losing its legitimacy in the eyes of the oppressed elsewhere in the world,” he argued.
Reform of the council should take into account the growing strength of countries including Turkey, Brazil, India and Indonesia, he said. “The West is no longer the only centre of the world.”
On the same day, Turkey’s leaders also met international peace envoy Lakhdar Brahimi and German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle.
After his meeting with Westerwelle, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu repeated Turkey’s position that they would not tolerate any further border incidents.
“Fresh border violations can take place and we will hit back without hesitation if we believe Turkey’s national security is in danger,” he told reporters.
But FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Ankara Jasper Mortimer believes the Turkish people will not back all-out military action against their neighbour.
“The Turks don’t want war, that has been very clear in opinion polls, anti-war demonstrations and even a debate in parliament ten days ago, so it will depend on the level of response,” Mortimer said.
“The people will expect the retaliation to be in proportion to the violation by Syria. If the retaliation is out of proportion to what Syria has done, then the government will come under criticism,” he added.