It has long been forgotten, but a little effort will help recall what happened. On June 22, 2012, a Turkish F-4 scout and training aircraft was hit by Syria.
The plane was unarmed and the identification system was on. It was in the air to control the newly installed radar system. It was hit without warning.
After days of rescue searches, the Turkish jet was found 260 meters under the Mediterranean with the bodies of the martyred pilots, Lt. Hasan Hüseyin Aksoy and Capt. Gökhan Ertan.
One of the allegations on the reason the plane was hit was that Russia hit our plane.
There were reports saying that the plane was hit by a missile fired from a Russian base located in Syria, but Russian authorities denied this news and explained that they did not hit the Turkish plane.
After this event deeply upsetting Turkey, Turkey changed its rules of engagement against Syria.
Every military element approaching the border from the Syrian side was considered a threat and was treated as a military target.
That is to say, on October 3, 2012, five Turkish citizens lost their lives because of a cannonball fired from the Syrian side of the border to the Akçakale town of Şanlıurfa.
Responding immediately, Turkey hit the military zones identified in Syria with cannon balls.
According to allegations, 34 Syrian soldiers died as a result of this attack.
Since then, Turkey has been applying the rules of engagement.
In 2013, a Syrian helicopter violating the Turkish border was hit by Turkey. On March 23, 2014, a Syrian military jet was hit by Turkey.
Again, on May 16, 2015, a Syrian drone violating the border in Hatay was hit by Turkish fighter jets.
On October 16 this year, Turkish General Staff announced that a drone which entered Turkish airspace was hit.
Therefore, after Turkey's F-4 was hit and its two pilots were martyred, since 2012 it has been quite obvious that the new rules of engagement, which could be summarized as “strike without warning,” have been applied seriously and without concession…
However, according to the statement made by the General Staff, before the jet violating our airspace was hit, although Turkey had no obligation to “warn,” it was warned several times to leave our airspace.
In spite of that, it insisted on staying at the border.
In this situation, there are two basic objections by those who defend that Turkey shouldn't have hit that jet: The first one is, “The same response could have been given similar to that in the Aegean.” Namely, “if it violated your airspace, you violate its airspace as well” approach.
Answer: Actually, such behavior could degrade Turkey's national honor. In 2012, as one of our planes was hit in Syrian airspace and our two pilots were martyred and Turkey promised “to hit whoever would violate its air space,” Turkey's not doing so would damage Turkey both in terms of being convincing and national pride more than expected.
That rule which is valid for people is also valid for nation-states: If you make a promise, you should keep it, otherwise you are not taken seriously.
The second concern that those who find Turkey's severe attitude to be wrong, is the anxiety that since Russia is big and strong, it may hit Turkey back for its downed jet, thus we would face a war…
Answer: Well, it cannot be said that there is no possibility of a war or retaliation but if Russia is a big and well-established country, Turkey is also a big and well-established country. Rather than waging a war Russia has problems of higher priority to solve…
Such as what it has been doing in Syria, thousands of kilometers away from Russia, and why it has been bombing the Turkmens…