Nato tells Russia to cease incursions in Turkish airspace

Organisation condemns ‘irrespsonsible behaviour’ following airstrikes in Syria

Nato ambassadors told Russia to halt its incursions into the airspace of Turkey, a member of the alliance, saying the violations were both extremely dangerous and irresponsible.

Following an emergency meeting in Brussels, ambassadors to the US-led alliance called on Russia to immediately explain itself, while expressing concern for Russian military attacks on Western-backed rebels in Syria.

“Allies strongly protest these violations of Turkish sovereign airspace, and condemn these incursions into and violations of Nato airspace,” Nato said in a statement.

"Allies also note the extreme danger of such irresponsible behaviour. They call on the Russian Federation to cease and desist, and immediately explain these violations."

A Russian warplane violated Turkish airspace near the Syrian border, prompting Ankara to scramble two F-16 jets to intercept it and summon Moscow’s ambassador in protest, the foreign ministry said on Monday.

Turkey, which has the second-largest army in Nato, said the Russian jet entered Turkish airspace south of the Hatay region on Saturday.

" [It] exited Turkish airspace into Syria after it was intercepted by two F-16s from the Turkish Air Force, which were conducting patrols in the region," the foreign ministry said in a statement.

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has criticised Russia's airstrikes in Syria, as a "grave mistake". Moscow says it aims to weaken Islamic State but Western powers see them as support for President Bashar al-Assad.

"Assad has committed state terrorism, and unfortunately you find Russia and Iran defending [him]," Mr Erdogan was quoted by the Hurriyet newspaper as telling a crowd of supporters in Strasbourg, late on Sunday.

“Those countries that collaborate with the regime will account for it in history,” he said.