Turkey offers Syria to compare jet hit details
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Nautilus found the wreckage of a Turkish F4 warplane which was shot down by Syria over the Med Sea last month. DHA photo
The Turkish government called on Damascus yesterday to compare intelligence on last month’s downing of a Turkish fighter jet, inviting Syria to provide any proof showing that the plane was shot down in Syrian airspace.
“Syria accepts that it downed a Turkish jet. … [President Bashar al-Assad] has expressed sadness over this,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç told reporters in Ankara yesterday, referring to remarks in an interview daily Cumhuriyet conducted with al-Assad.
“[He] says that it was hit in Syria’s territorial waters or airspace. Our data show that these statements are not true. If [Syria] has information, documents or recordings of a third country, we are ready to compare [them with] our own information,” Arınç said.
The Turkish government on several occasions has urged third countries to share any data concerning the state of affairs of the incident. Arınç’s call, however, was the first time a senior Turkish official has called on Syria to do the same. Most recently, President Abdullah Gül said July 9 that Turkey’s allies needed to help shed light on how its jet was downed.
The president also called on third countries to publicize any documents that they have regarding the incident, and said there was no bilateral issue, hostility or conflict of interest between Turkey and Syria.
Erdoğan to meet Putin next week
A few days after the incident, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad al-Makdissi said Syria had suggested the formation of a joint military technical committee to visit the site of the incident in Latakia in order to inspect what happened but added that the Turkish side did not respond to the offer.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will pay a one-day working visit to Russia on July 18, the prime ministry announced yesterday in a brief statement.There was no information concerning the agenda for the visit in the statement; however, officials from the prime minister’s office told Hürriyet Daily News that Syria’s attack on a Turkish jet would likely be the highlight of talks between Erdoğan and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The idea of a bilateral meeting was put forward by Putin when Erdoğan called him on June 27 to share information collected by the Turkish military and intelligence on how the June 22 attack, which led to deaths of two Turkish pilots, occurred, the same officials told Daily News.
Ankara’s announcement of the visit yesterday followed Moscow’s announcement that it was refusing to make new arms sales to Syria.
Russia also said yesterday it would be ready to host a new meeting of world powers aimed at ending the conflict in Syria, and proposed broadening the talks to include other countries, including Iran. International powers agreed in Geneva that a transitional government should be set up in Syria but left open the question of what role President Bashar al-Assad might play.