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Qatar, Turkey to launch joint university for Syrian refugees

The university will primarily serve Syrian refugees but will also expand scientific and technological cooperation between Turkey and Qatar
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan (R) shakes hands with Emir of Qatar Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani (L) after a meeting in Ankara, on 19 December, 2014 (AFP)

Turkey's Gaziantep municipality started work on a planned Turkey-Qatar international university for Syrian refugees, the mayor of Turkey’s southeastern province said Sunday.

"The Embassy of Qatar has been conducting planning studies for the university," Mayor Fatma Sahin told Anadolu Agency. "Our Minister of Education also recently asked for help in the allocation of land and we have been in consultation with [Education] Minister Nabi Avci and have identified several places."

Sahin added that the planned international joint-degree university will primarily serve Syrian refugees and will also expand scientific and technological cooperation between Turkey and Qatar. 

In October 2014, Sheikha Mozah, the Emir of Qatar’s mother, paid a visit to a tent city that shelters Syrian refugees in Gaziantep, along with Turkey's First Lady Emine Erdogan.

Soon after, the two countries signed joint education projects for refugees. Last week, Avci met with Qatar's ambassador to Turkey, Salem bin Mubarak Al-Shafi, and discussed the two countries’ joint education agreement.

Turkish air force shoots down Syrian helicopter

Meanwhile, Turkish air force has shot down a Syrian helicopter after it violated Turkey's airspace, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday.

"The power the Turkish government has granted to the Turkish Armed Forces is extremely clear and whoever violates Turkish borders will be punished," Davutoglu said in the capital Ankara.

Turkish fighter jets responded in line with engagement rules, which changed in 2012 when Syria shot down a Turkish fighter jet, he said.

The Syrian government was yet to react to the Turkish military action. "How can Syria react to an action that they know is wrong?" Davutoglu asked.

Also, Turkish Defence Minister Ismet Yilmaz said on Saturday that the Syrian helicopter entered seven miles (11.3 kilometers) into Turkish airspace and remained in violation for five minutes before it was shot down at around 2pm (1100 GMT).

"I congratulate our armed forces who gave the due response to Syrian forces that breached our airspace," Yilmaz said in Sivas province. "Let our people be rest assured that our armed forces are on guard 24 hours a day to protect the rights of the Turkish nation."

In June 2012, Syrian forces shot down a Turkish fighter jet after it violated Syrian airspace, although according to Turkey, Syrian forces issued it with no warning and the aircraft had already left Syrian airspace when it was targeted with missiles.

The incident prompted Ankara to announce that it was changing rules of engagement and would consider any approaching Syrian aircraft as a security threat and shoot them down.