MIDEAST > Syria says it shot down Turkish jet over Syrian water

AMMAN - Reuters

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Syrian President Bashar Assad. AFP photo

Syrian President Bashar Assad. AFP photo

Syria shot down a Turkish warplane over the Mediterranean yesterday and Ankara warned it would respond decisively to the incident that threatened to open a new international dimension in the 16-month revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Syria said the Turkish aircraft was flying low, well inside Syrian territorial waters when it was shot down.
With the second biggest army in NATO, a force hardened by nearly 30 years of fighting Kurdish rebels, Turkey would be a formidable foe for the Syrian army which is already struggling to put down a 16-month-old revolt. But Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's initial comments and subsequent statement on the downing of the F-4 jet were measured in tone. He said Turkish and Syrian forces were working together to search for the two missing crew of the aircraft.
"As a result of information obtained from the evaluation of our concerned institutions and from within the joint search and rescue operations with Syria, it is understood that our plane was brought down by Syria," Erdogan's office said in a statement.
"Turkey will present its final stance after the incident has been fully brought to light and decisively take the necessary steps," the office said after a two-hour emergency meeting between prime minister, the chief of general staff, the defence, interior and foreign ministers, the head of national intelligence and the commander of the air force.
Turkish media had reported earlier that Syria had apologised for the incident, but Erdogan made no mention of any apology.
Violence raged unabated inside Syria, which appears to be sliding into a sectarian-tinged civil war pitting majority Sunni Muslims against Assad's minority Alawite sect. Turkey fears the fighting if unchecked could unleash a flood of refugees over its own border and ignite regional sectarian conflict.
Ankara, which had drawn close to Syria before the uprising against Assad, turned against the Syrian leader when he responded violently to pro-democracy protests inspired by popular upheavals elsewhere in the Arab world. Turkey now gives refuge to the rebel Free Syrian Army on its frontier with Syria.
Erdogan, whose emnity with Assad has assumed a strongly personal nature, gave no hint what action he might contemplate.
A statement by the Syrian military said the Turkish plane was flying low, just one kilometre off the Syrian coast, when it was hit by anti-aircraft fire. The plane fell in Syrian waters 10 kilometers west of the village of Um al-Touyour. 
"The navy of the two countries have established contact. Syrian naval vessels are participating along with the Turkish side in the search operation for the missing pilots," it said.
Syria has some of the most sophisticated air defences in the Middle East, supplied by Russia.
Turkish state television interviewed witnesses on the country's Mediterranean coast, near the Syrian border, who said they saw two low-flying fighter jets pass overhead in the morning in the direction of Syrian waters but only one return. Ankara has previously floated the possibility of setting up some kind of safe haven or humanitarian corridor inside Syria, which would entail military intervention, but has said it would undertake no such action without U.N. Security Council approval.


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Notice on comments

Shahid Chowdhury

6/24/2012 8:41:13 AM

Turkey has been working with Zionist and the US since 1925. Turkey is not a friend of Muslim Countries and Islamic Umma. It is friend of Israel and the US,UK,France and Germany. Syria did the right job by shooting down Turkish F-4 Phantom. Turkey has been working for terrorist oposition of Syria who are funded and armed by Israel,US,UK,France,Turkey,KSA,UAE and Qatar. Syria will shoot down each and every Turkish,Israeli and American plane with hesitation.

Mike Anon

6/24/2012 12:16:40 AM

@ilker avni: Flying unannounced into another country's airspace with a fighter jet flying low to avoid radar is an act of war! Fortunately for Turkey they cannot use this to start a war. A war they should stay out of because it was started by proxy by the US, Israel and the Gulf states. All this to break the power of Damascus/Teheran. Why is Turkey letting itself be the pawn in one of Israel's games?

Hama Rahim

6/23/2012 4:29:21 PM

It must hurt to see that Turkey don't have the respect she wishes to have among it's neighbors and that no one is taking her seriously any more!

Turk Uzan

6/23/2012 3:14:51 PM

We need to create a buffer zone, I realize this isn't an easy task (The Syria border is by far our largest border with 822km followed by it's ally Iran 499km. But this is necessary to freeze a large part of the PKK's movement and activities, it will secure ground for refugees in their own country. And we will be able to help the rebels more effectively. Place a ton of artillery and AA, ground troops and shell Assad while using air operations. Lets see how their AA works vs combat aircrafts

Ryan James

6/23/2012 3:05:44 PM

Turkish warmongers get caught in their provocation. Syria has the right to protect its national boundaries. Turkey should apologize.

Mark Tak

6/23/2012 10:43:43 AM

I am glad, Turks should never get involved in US and Israel war , they want Turks to fight for them, and Turks will pay the price, since Russia is never going to give up Syria, and Iran also will be hostile, Turks will be the one holding the Bag like always, do you remember Iraq war 2003, it cost Turks $100 Billion, did US or Israel oaid for that? no. again US pushing it under Nato mendate arrticle 5

Blue Dotterel

6/23/2012 9:09:16 AM

What was a Turkish military plane doing flying over Syrian territorial waters? Is this a deliberate effort to try and invoke article V of Nato's charter.

Aslam Benli

6/23/2012 7:29:06 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).

ilker avni

6/23/2012 6:17:08 AM

Shooting down without any WARNINGS is a act of WAR.
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