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Ankara resorts to fake news over violations

Ankara resorts to fake news over violations

Ankara appears to be deploying fake news as a tactic in its ongoing escalation of tensions with Athens, claiming that on two occasions Greek jets harassed Turkish aircraft that were conducting NATO exercises together with American aircraft in the Aegean Sea.

The most recent of these incidents occurred on August 24, in the northeastern Aegean. Turkish Defense Ministry sources claimed that NATO AWACS aircraft and two Turkish F-16s carrying out the Nexus Ace training mission in the Aegean were harassed by Greek warplanes. However, Greek military sources dismiss the claim as false.

More specifically, they noted that a military exercise of Turkish fighters was indeed taking place, under the guise of NATO, but without the participation of aircraft of other Alliance member-states, as is normally the case with real NATO exercises. It also noted that an AWACS-type flying radar was requested by Turkey for a drill within Turkish airspace. However, seeking to build a narrative, Ankara ordered a pair of F-16 fighter jets to carry out a flight within Greek airspace, north of Lesvos, without submitting a flight plan to the competent Greek authorities. As is customary and in accordance with international rules, Greek fighters carried out an interception procedure. This turned into an engagement because of the Turks’ refusal to leave the area of Greek national sovereignty. The tension was further escalated by Ankara, which sent 10 more fighters, four of which were armed, to the area.

In an earlier incident on August 22 in an area between the islands of Megisti and Karpathos, Turkey claimed – falsely as it turns out – that Greek F-16s harassed Turkish fighter jets that were carrying out NATO missions over the Eastern Mediterranean.

According to Athens, a flight of US B-52 planes took place in the Athens FIR at noon on August 22 following consultation between the Joint Chiefs of Staff and NATO’s Air Command (AIRCOM). The B-52s entered the southwestern boundary of the Athens FIR in order to exit it west of the island of Megisti. Although this flight was not intended to be accompanied by fighter aircraft, as was the case on previous occasions, five unidentified jets moved east of Karpathos, interfering with the B-52s’ route without a flight plan being filed. An interception procedure ensued.

Turkey has always refused to file flight plans for its fighters in the Athens FIR, claiming that as NATO aircraft they are part of missions within, supposedly, a single allied space.