Tension rises in Aegean skies

Simmering military tension over the Aegean escalated yesterday when armed Turkish fighter jets harassed Greek aircraft carrying out bombing runs during an exercise between the islands of Lesvos and Lemnos, the Defense Ministry said. A spokesman said the Foreign Ministry had been notified and would make strong representations to Ankara. Air force sources said a pair of Turkish F-16 fighters intruded into an area within the Athens Flight Information Region reserved by Greece for the exercise, and closed in at a distance of 1,000 feet on Greek F-4 fighter-bombers diving on a floating target. This continued for two practice runs. Before the incident, the Turkish jets had already been chased away twice by Greek fighters. A further 34 Turkish jets violated Greek air space yesterday on 44 occasions. Yesterday’s intrusions follow a series of air space and Athens FIR violations by 35 Turkish military aircraft on Monday. Last year, Turkish violations of Greek airspace quadrupled over 2001.

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