ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
U.S. intelligence indicated a Turkish warplane shot down by Syrian forces was most likely hit by shore-based anti-aircraft guns while flying inside Syrian airspace, American officials said, according to the Wall Street Journal. The finding falls in tune with Syria’s account of the incident and contrasts reports from Turkish officials.
The Turkish government has said debris from the plane fell into Syrian waters, but maintained that its fighter jet was shot down without warning in international airspace.
"We see no indication that it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile as Turkey says,” a senior U.S. defense official said, but declined to specify the source of the information. The senior U.S. defense official cautioned that much remains unknown about the incident.
The use of antiaircraft fire would suggest the Turkish plane was flying slowly and low to the ground, U.S. officials said, although Syria had said the jet was traveling at 480 miles an hour.
If hit by anti-aircraft fire, the jet likely came closer to the Syrian shoreline than Turkey claims, U.S. officials said.
A former senior U.S. official who worked closely with Turkey said he believed the flight's course was meant to test Syria's response. "You think that the airplane was there by mistake?" the former official said. "These countries are all testing how fast they get picked up and how fast someone responds. It's part of training."
A Turkish official said the plane wasn't on a surveillance mission when it was shot down. "All NATO members have condemned the Syrian hostile act and have supported Turkey," the official said.
The plane's pilots have not been found and the Turkish Navy continues to search for them.