Report: Russia says plane provoked Syria
MOSCOW - Agence France-Presse
Russian FM Lavrov’s deputy denies discussing al-Assad’s future with the US. REUTERS photo
A Turkish fighter jet shot down by Syria last month asked for trouble when it entered Syrian airspace, Interfax news agency quoted an unnamed Russian source as saying on July 3.
“The actions of the Turkish plane were no doubt a provocation. Otherwise how would you explain the fact that the fighter jet flew two, albeit short, sorties into Syrian airspace? The crew must have had only one motive for such an action – to test the combat-readiness of the Syrian air defense systems and it indeed tested them. And also to conduct a reconnaissance of the strength and capabilities of the Syrian air defense systems in the coastal direction,” the Russian source said. “In any case, the crew of the Turkish Phantom tried hard, literally asking for the Syrian air defenses’ fire.”
Meanwhile, Russia yesterday denied holding talks with the United States about offering Syrian President Bashar al-Assad exile as a way out of the 16 months of bloodshed that has claimed more than 16,500 lives in Syria.
“The situation with the future of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is not being discussed with the United States,” Russia’s Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov told Interfax news agency. Earlier, Moscow’s Kommersant daily had quoted a Russian diplomat as saying Western nations were trying to persuade Moscow to offer a home to Assad. Also Russia has said it will stay away from a Friends of the Syrian People meeting that will take place in Paris on July 6.