Dogfights in Aegean amid tensions with Turkey


Turkish fighter jets entered Greece’s air space Wednesday, prompting the response of two Greek aircraft, and leading to a dogfight between the two sides, the first such incident of its kind since a failed military coup in Turkey on July 15.

Two Turkish F-16s violated Greek air space southeast of Rhodes and south of Kastellorizo shortly before 4 p.m. and were pursued by two Greek fighter jets dispatched from a base at Souda Bay, according to Defense Ministry officials. A separate pair of Turkish jets then entered Greek air space and engaged in a dogfight with the Greek aircraft. The Turkish jets were all armed, according to defense officials.

Greek-Turkish relations have been strained in recent weeks following comments by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other Turkish officials questioning international treaties that establish the borders between the two countries. A misinterpretation, however, of more recent comments by Erdogan, which suggested that he had called for a referendum in the Greek region of Thrace, needlessly aggravated the situation.

In the wake of the mistake, the head of the Greek Embassy’s press office in Ankara has been ordered to return to Athens, sources indicated on Wednesday.