Greek soldiers fired warning shots at a Turkish helicopter after it approached the small island of Ro, which marks their border in the Aegean Sea, a Greek military source said Tuesday.
The overnight incident comes with the NATO allies locked in yet another round of tense exchanges, sparked this time by Turkey’s detention in March of two Greek soldiers who according to Athens strayed into Turkish territory by mistake.
Greek news outlet Ekathimerini reported that the Turkish helicopter flew around the island at low altitude. The aircraft left the area after Greek troops fired tracer rounds at around 11:30 p.m.
“The order to fire the warning shots to force the helicopter to move off came in the context of stepped up surveillance and reaction measures adopted given the increase in tensions with Turkey,” the Greek source said.
The source, who asked not to be identified, said the helicopter, apparently operated by the Turkish coastguard, flew along the outer limit of the air control identification zone between the two countries.
The source added that later analysis of radar readings showed that the helicopter had not infringed on Greek airspace.
Recent months have seen a sharp spike in tensions between Athens and Ankara, with Greece determined to protect its sovereign rights in the Aegean where the two sides have a series of longstanding territorial disputes.
On Sunday, two Turkish F-16 jets flew over Oinousses, a group of small islands in the northeastern Aegean, ignoring an informal moratorium on military activity during religious holidays, Ekathimerini reported.
With reporting from AFP