A Syrian general and 37 other soldiers have defected to Turkey days after Syria shot down a Turkish warplane.
The general, two colonels, two majors and 33 other soldiers are said to have crossed into Hatay province on Sunday night in a further sign of simmering tensions between the neighbours.
Turkey has summoned a NATO meeting to form a response to the downing of its military reconnaissance jet in what it says was an attack without warning carried out over international airspace.
However Syria's Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said on Monday that anti-aircraft gunners would have blasted the Turkish airforce F4 Phantom out of its airspace "even if it was Syrian".
He said Friday's so-called incursion was a "a clear breach of Syrian sovereignty" and gunners had to "react immediately".
"Syria reacted to the breach," he told a news conference on Monday. "We had to react immediately, even if the plane was Syrian we would have shot it down."
Despite the incident Syria remains committed to a "neighbourly relationship" with Turkey, Makdissi said.
Thirteen Syrian generals are now in Turkey which is giving logistical support to the Free Syrian Army, though Ankara denies arming the rebels.