Ankara dismisses Assad’s remarks about jet crisis
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu (L) meets with Egypt’s new President
Mohamed Morsi in Cairo, before attending a meeting on Syria crisis. AA photo
Dismissing Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s remarks to a Turkish newspaper, in which he expressed regret over the shooting down of a Turkish jet by his military forces, Ankara
regards his statements as a follow-up to a campaign of distorting the state of affairs concerning the incident.
Al-Assad was trying to curry favor with the public, Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ said, dismissing the suggestion that the Turkish plane was flying in airspace often used by Israel.
“All these remarks are part of an approach aiming to manufacture public opinion, because it is nothing new that Israel
uses these corridors, they constantly use them,” Bozdağ said in a televised interview yesterday. “If the Syrian administration says it shot down the plane presuming it was an Israeli one, then they would have shot many Israeli planes down by now.”
The minister also dismissed the claim that Syrian radar could not detect the plane, Bozdağ said, dismissing al-Assad’s argument that Syria was not aware it had shot down a Turkish aircraft. Syria’s radar systems have the capability to detect approaching planes, Bozdağ said, and the Syrians should have been able to identify the Turkish plane because it was carrying the necessary identification systems. Syrian forces could also hear Turkey’s radar system warning its plane, he said.
The downing of the Turkish plane is “a crime which will not remain unpunished,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu
said in a televised interview yesterday. He said any attack on Turkish borders would be assumed to be an attack against NATO.
The foreign minister said the Syrian administration should step down. “Russia and China
have come to the conclusion that a change is necessary [in Syria’s administration].”
“Neither al-Assad or anyone else, only the Syrian people, can decide who will govern Syria,” the minister said. No authority could be above the will of Syrian people, Davutoğlu said. “In such a case, they can’t say the [Syrian] administration has been handed over to a transitional government.”
Meanwhile two 2XF-16 fighter jets scrambled on July 2 from İncirlik base after seeing Syrian helicopters near the Turkish border were flying a patrol flight over the Adana-Hatay area, the Turkish General Staff said in a statement yesterday.