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USAF F-16s inadvertently entered Turkish airspace

May 29, 2007 (by Lieven Dewitte) - Two USAF F-16s appear to have inadvertently crossed into Turkish airspace over the border with Iraq, a U.S. Embassy official said today, adding that the incursion was under investigation.

A USAF F-16 taking on fuel over Iraq

The Turkish military reported on Sunday that two F-16 jets roamed into Turkish airspace on Thursday for four minutes, over the region of Uzumlu, in the province of Hakkari, which borders Iraq. The military has informed the Turkish Foreign Ministry of the violation and has asked to take appropriate steps.

At this point however it appears to be an inadvertent crossing into Turkish airspace. Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul also played down the incident saying such incursions occurred from time to time, Private NTV television reported.

Turkish media however claims the border crossing was intended to send a message to Ankara not to send its troops into Iraq.

Turkey has amassed troops along its border with Iraq and has accused Iraqi authorities of allowing Kurdish separatists to establish bases in northern Iraq to launch attacks against Turkish targets. In the wake of several bomb attacks blamed on the separatist PKK (Kurdistan Workers Party) Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan last week warned that his government would consider cross-border raids into Iraq against the alleged PKK bases.

The U.S. expressed its concern about a possible incursion by Turkey into northern Iraq against Kurdish rebels.