Defense Secretary Ashton Carter says he doesn’t believe Russia’s claims that its violation of Turkish airspace over the weekend was an accident and is promising to respond.
An unconfirmed report by the Daily Sabah, an English-language newspaper in Turkey, tweeted Tuesday that a MiG-29 “interfered” with up to eight Turkish F-16 jets patrolling the Syrian border on Monday.
Turkey’s military meanwhile said several of its jets patrolling the border with Syria were again targeted by Russian planes and surface-to-air missile systems.
“I can confirm that we have seen a substantial build-up of Russian forces in Syria: air forces, air defences, but also ground troops in connection with the air base they have, and we also see an increased naval presence”, Stoltenberg said.
“That would simply be deepening their mistake in Syria, if it’s true, ” said Carter.
Turkey warned that “Russia would be held responsible” for future intrusions, a Turkish official said.
“Our Russian friends are merely conducting air strikes against terrorist groups”, the official said.
The New York Times reported that there are longstanding differences between Russian Federation and the United States regarding President Bashar al-Assad of Syria and his opponents.
Mr Stoltenberg in advance of tomorrow’s meeting of alliance defence ministers in Brussels, where Russia’s military involvement in Syria and Nato’s response will top the agenda.
He said he had not had any direct contact with Moscow but North Atlantic Treaty Organisation has discussed the possibility of using its military lines of communication with Russian Federation.
During the videoconference with the Russians on Thursday, Elissa Slotkin, who represented the U.S. side, raised concerns about the Russian airstrikes targeting areas where there are few if any Islamic State militants operating.
Mr Stoltenberg said he was also concerned that in Syria the Russians were not targeting Islamic State “but instead attacking the Syrian opposition and civilians”.
In comments likely to draw a reaction in Washington, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Tuesday evoked the Kremlin’s reaction to 9/11 when rejecting the US stance on Russia’s Syria operation.
Separately, a high-ranking military official in Syria told AFP that claims Moscow was allegedly preparing for a ground intervention was a Western attempt at diminishing Russia’s role.