Minister declines claims over hit jet
ANKARA / WASHINGTON
Defense Minister İsmet Yılmaz AA photoDefense Minister İsmet Yılmaz has denied claims by Saudi Arabian news channel Al Arabiya that two Turkish pilots thought to have perished when their jet was shot down June 22 were actually murdered by Syrian intelligence.
Yılmaz said the public should believe “all information given by the Turkish Foreign Ministry” and added that none of the Al Arabiya claims were true.
“Public offices may give incomplete information, but will never give wrong information,” Yılmaz said. “Every piece of information given by the Turkish Foreign Ministry and the chief of General Staff is true.” Yılmaz said authorities would soon release statements on the matter.
Utter nonsense: Russia
Meanwhile, the Russian Foreign Ministry said the documents are “utter nonsense and fantasy,” while the U.S. said the claim sounded like a massive conspiracy theory. “It is ridiculous even to comment on this nonsense, but, unfortunately, we have to,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a written statement. “These far-from-harmless fantasies are based on ‘intelligence databases,’ obtained by Al Arabiya from open sources, including the official website of the RIA Novosti news agency.” Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich accused some Arab media of “unscrupulous and outright lies” concerning the situation in Syria, allowing, though, that the world had gotten used to it.
A U.S. State Department spokeswoman said the claims resembled a conspiracy theory. “I haven’t seen any of that in any of our channels. Sounds a lot like a massive conspiracy theory,” Victoria Nuland said during a daily press conference.
Al Arabiya said it had been handed a top-secret Syrian government document by the opposition, purporting to show that Damascus had initially ordered the interrogation of the two pilots before ordering their “elimination” on the basis of “guidance from the Russian leadership.”