Reports of a Russian airstrike hitting Turkey’s largest military air base inside the country for the first time on Thursday morning appear to have shaken the country’s military. According to The Nation, “a blast was heard near the base in Samsun, and debris fell on a nearby residential neighborhood.”
According to a Turkish military spokesman, no one was hurt in the attack, a short drive from the capital Ankara. It was unclear who exactly was responsible for the attack.
“During the attack, ISIS terrorists fired at Turkish military facilities,” a Turkish official said. “Due to our effective aerial attacks, all Turkish territory has been completely free of any support from ISIS.”
The country’s deputy prime minister, Bekir Bozdag, told The New York Times that Russia has attacked an Air Force base only one other time before, which he described as “pre-planned targeting.”
Samsun is only 160 miles from the Syrian border. The base is located about 25 miles from the eastern city of Diyarbakir, which has been the scene of almost daily protests against Turkey’s relationship with President Bashar al-Assad. But despite Erdogan’s frequent declarations of support for the rebellion, he has yet to react in a way that would suggest a change in his position.
Though the attack appears to have only shaken Turkey’s civilian military for now, military analyst Guillermo Garcia-Ruiz told The Nation that it could turn the country’s focus more away from the border and back towards its NATO allies.
“It will make Turkey’s fears for the Russian client regime on the border of Syria more intense,” he said. “As Turkish authorities are weakened and become isolated, this way Turkey will be pushed to more closely align with NATO.”