Turkish Airlines has stopped using Syrian airspace on their flights, a company executive told Anatolia news agency Thursday, amid escalating tensions between Ankara and Damascus.
“Turkish Airlines planes have not been using Syrian airspace for four days now,” Hamdi Topcu, chairman of THY executive board, was quoted as saying by the Anatolia.
The planes will continue to avoid Syrian skies and use alternative routes until a secondary safe line is established, he added.
The suspension comes after Turkey and Syria engaged in sporadic cross-border shelling last week, a showdown triggered by the death of five Turkish civilians in a Turkish border town by Syrian shelling.
Damascus says the shellings do not target Turkey but Ankara, infuriated by Turkish casualties, obtained a mandate from the parliament to stage cross-border operations in Syria as “worst case scenario.”
Tensions between the former allies were further fuelled on Thursday, when a Syrian plane en route from Moscow to Damascus was forced by Turkish jets to take an emergency landing in Ankara on suspicion that it was carried weapons.
Syria’s Ambassador to Moscow, Riyad Haddad, visited the Russian Foreign Ministry earlier today. No further information was provided by either Moscow or Damascus regarding the visit.