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Turkey accuses Greece of harassing its F-16s during NATO exercise

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Turkey has accused Greece of harassing F-16 fighter jets that were conducting a NATO exercise over the eastern Mediterranean, the state-run Anadolu news agency reported.

Anadolu said, based on sources from the Turkish Defense Ministry, F-16s belonging to the Greek military harassed Turkish pilots on Wednesday by putting them in a radar lock during the NATO exercise.

Turkey responded and forced the planes to leave the area, Anadolu said, without elaborating.

The alleged harassment of the Turkish jets by Greece also prompted the country to summon the Greek military attaché and file a complaint with NATO related to the incident, which Turkey said endangered a NATO exercise.

However, Greece has rejected Turkey’s claims of harassment, with the country’s Defense Ministry saying in a statement that the five Turkish jets appeared without prior notification to accompany a flight of US B-52 bombers that hadn’t been due to have a fighter escort through an area subject to Greek flight control.

It said four Greek fighters were scrambled and chased off the armed Turkish planes, adding that Athens informed NATO and US authorities about the incident.

Greece also accused Turkey of 78 violations of Greek airspace Tuesday with 23 planes, 15 of which were armed.

Although both NATO members, Turkey and Greece have decades-old disputes over an array of issues, including territorial claims in the Aegean Sea and disputes over the airspace there.

The disputes have brought them to the brink of war three times in the last half-century.

Tensions flared in 2020 over exploratory drilling rights in areas of the Mediterranean Sea where Greece and Cyprus claim exclusive economic zones, leading to a naval standoff.

Turkey has accused Greece of violating international agreements by militarizing islands in the Aegean Sea.

Athens says it needs to defend the islands, many of which sit close to Turkey’s coast, against a potential attack from Turkey’s large fleet of military landing craft.

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