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LOCAL > PM could not yet confirm Turkish war plane shut down by Syria

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Two Turkish pilots go missing as their warplane goes down off Syria; PM Erdoğan does not immediately confirm whether or not the aircraft was shot down

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Syria shot down a Turkish jet on June 22, an official told the Hürriyet Daily News, adding that Damascus expressed sorrow over the incident and was cooperating with Ankara in search and rescue efforts for two Turkish pilots in Syrian territorial waters.

The information, however, was not confirmed by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan late June 22 who said “I cannot say that it was shot down. I can’t say it before obtaining concrete information,” in a press conference he held just before a high level security summit. He also could not confirm whether Syria expressed sorrow or apologized for the incident, saying “I cannot confirm whether they have apologized of on what grounds they did so if they apologized.” Despite reports that two Turkish pilots ejected from the plane and they were safe, Erdoğan said “there was no information on the state of the pilots.” But he denied reports that Turkish pilots were taken hostage by Syrian forces. In his separate dialogue with journalists travelling with him, Erdoğan “If this is true, then there would be a great problem.”

The incident could potentially add more tension to the already-tense relations between Turkey and Syria over Bashar al-Assad’s oppression against his own people.

Plane crashes at noon
It was not clear exactly how or where the incident occurred, but the military’s earlier statement said the connection with the Turkish F-4 aircraft was lost at 11:58 a.m., over the sea just off the southwest of the Hatay province, bordering Syria. The plane had taken off from the Erhaç airbase in Malatya, Central Anatolia at 10:00 a.m. It was also not clear what purpose the Turkish jet was serving in that region, but there are unconfirmed reports that it was carrying out a reconnaissance flight. It is not known whether the plane was shot down by a Syrian jet or by a surface to air missile.

The NTV private news channel reported that the plane had crashed in Syrian territorial waters, but that there had been no violation of the Syrian border, citing unnamed military sources.

According to information the Daily News gathered from official sources, the Turkish military launched a broad search and rescue operation to find the plane and the two pilots who ejected themselves and fell in the water.

Sources said Syria had dispatched three guard boats to contribute to Turkish efforts, as the search was taking place in Syrian territorial waters. The first news that Syria shot the Turkish jet down came from local sources in Lebanon and Syria. Erdoğan said alongside with Turkey’s four guard boats Syria joined efforts with own vessels.

A local witness has told RT Arabic that the plane crashed on Syrian territory and that the two pilots were captured.

The craft was shot down as the Syrian air defense opened fire, according to Lebanon-based pan-Arab Al-Mayadeen TV. These reports are yet to be confirmed.

Turkey has joined nations such as the United States in saying that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad should step down because of the uprising in his country that has killed thousands of people.

Turkey also has set up refugee camps on its border for more than 32,000 Syrians who have fled the fighting.

June/22/2012

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US Observer

6/24/2012 9:27:54 PM

Pretty sure if the U.S wanted to take down Syria, it would not be to hard. Your conspireracy theorist are funny. We don't need to "use" anyone. In other words, this has nothing to do with us. Like a good ally though, if Turks asked NATO to intercede, I'm sure we would. As already metnioned though, Turks really don't need help with Syria.

SwordOf TheProphet

6/23/2012 7:46:49 PM

MR Somalia, there's no "kurdish issue", only a terrorist problem.

SwordOf TheProphet

6/23/2012 7:45:53 PM

Mark Tak, our neighbors are pathetic militarily. We won't fight them unless they force us too but rest assured, if they do, they will be destroyed.

SwordOf TheProphet

6/23/2012 7:45:07 PM

T. Franklin, yeah, you make a good point. Never mind the messages here.

MR Somalia

6/23/2012 5:23:11 PM

If Turkey couldn't respond to Israel's violation of its airspace, doesn't mean Syria should do the same and give you Turkish delight. It responded to a foreign aggression like it should. My advise for Turks is lets pray for the pilots' health and well-being but you should not be used by NATO and other aggressors. You have your own Kurdish issue.

Murat

6/23/2012 4:49:11 PM

Erdogan, the paper tiger. This government has miserably failed to protect Turkish borders, planes, ships and lives not to mention dignity. Their power seems to reach mostly to Turkish intellectuals, their political opponents and retired generals. Time to take some responsibility but the concept is alien to many involved.

In A Flap

6/23/2012 2:13:34 PM

Assad is a desperate man who knows he may well go the same way as Saddam or Gadaffi. And it couldn't be a better way for someone like him to go. Hiding in a hole in the ground or in a sewer pipe. The sooner he is gone the better for the civilians in his country, however what happens once he goes is going to be the million dollar question. Trading one despot for another does not do the people any good.

Mark Tak

6/23/2012 10:55:16 AM

It was a test of Syrian air defnses, that is why Turks send the oldest plane in the Syrian airspace, and Turks should never fight its neigboors for the Israel or US, this is what is going on now

ilker avni

6/23/2012 7:46:28 AM

@ Ivan mezel The Turkish Airforce uses F-4 phamptoms for training pilots,they are old about forty years old,but they are reliable but are not a match against todays fighters or air missile defence systems,this was either a mistake by the pilots or recon sortie, only the Turkish Airforce would know the answer.Most modern planes have radar jamming and other smart gadgets to confuse the missiles,if this was a trainer i dont think it would have had any modern gadgets on it or if armed.

Aslam Benli

6/23/2012 7:35:47 AM

Turkish warplanes patrol our border, it's their duty. A buffer zone must be established to protect our national security (not my idea, but Turkish's government's idea. A buffer zone can protect our country, our Muslim brothers from Syria and prevent more "accidents" from Syria . Turkiye is member of NATO. An aggression to our country is an aggression to NATO. Lets send the F-16 this time.Our PM Mr. Erdogan must act now if he wants to demonstrate that we mean what we say (we are not cowards).
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