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ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News

Al-Assad forces fired on a Turkish-flagged search and rescue plane which rushed into Syrian airspace to locate the downed Turkish jet and its two missing pilots, Western diplomats reveal to Hürriyet Daily News

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Serkan Demirtaş Serkan Demirtaş serkan.demirtas@hdn.com.tr

Syrian security forces fired on a Turkish-flagged search and rescue plane which rushed into Syrian airspace to locate the downed Turkish F4 jet and its two missing pilots June 22, the Hürriyet Daily News has learned from Western diplomatic sources.

“[In addition to] what we have seen in the media, we have been informed that Syrian forces opened fire on another Turkish plane [which had come to the region] as part of the search and rescue operation,” sources told the Daily News on the condition of anonymity.

This information was shared with the ambassadors and defense attachés of the Arab League, European Union and NATO countries during a briefing at the Foreign Ministry yesterday. The Turkish search and rescue plane immediately left Syrian airspace after the shots. Local eyewitnesses reported a second plane leaving the same region over the Mediterranean Sea the afternoon of June 22, which could possibly be this Turkish search and rescue plane. Amid sound and fury over the shooting down of the Turkish jet, there was also another row between Turkey and Syria on the coordination of the search and rescue operation. The Syrian side offered to conduct a joint operation but attached certain conditions.

One of the conditions was that Syria wanted to seize the Turkish jet and take the Turkish pilots for the completion of necessary procedures as they had been in Syrian territorial waters. The Turkish side strongly rejected the idea and informed Syrian forces that Turkey would carry out its own search and rescue operations and would not leave its pilots and jet in the hands of Syria.

For this reason Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu denied that there was a joint search and rescue operation with Syria in his remarks yesterday. “This cannot be described as a joint operation. We are in coordination with the Syrians as this operation is being carried out in their territorial waters,” Davutoğlu said. The search and rescue operation is expected to end tomorrow.

In the same briefing, Turkey told foreign ambassadors that Syrian air forces had violated the Turkish border five times in recent months but had not been intercepted as these had not been considered “hostile” moves. The Turkish side implemented rules of engagement in these cases but did not respond to them in the way Syria did to the Turkish jet.

Searches go on for hit jet

ANKARA

Turkey sent additional vessels to the eastern Mediterranean after the wreckage of the downed jet was identified at a depth of 1,300 meters in the Mediterranean Sea. “Our priority is to save our pilots. We have sent another search and rescue vessel to the area [where] we believe our jet fell..The sea depth is around 1,300 meters in the region” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said and requested steadiness from the families of the two pilots. The missing pilots are Capt. Gökhan Ertan and Lt. Hüseyin Aksoy. Turkish naval and air forces have been carrying out search and rescue operations since late Friday but no wreckage of the plane or pilots could be found. A vessel equipped with the technology necessary for a more detailed search has already been dispatched to the area to assist ongoing efforts of Turkish and Syrian guard boats.


June/25/2012

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Arthur Borges

6/25/2012 11:06:24 PM

According to the Syrian foreign minister, the F-4 was shot down by anti-aircraft cannon, not a missile. That the search & rescue (SAR) aircraft was able to escape suggests it came under cannon fire too: a relatively slow SAR aircraft/helicopter would be less likely to escape a missile attack than an F-4.

Mister Brown

6/25/2012 9:28:17 PM

what is mr erdogan waiting for. i would declare war to catch assad away to free the syiran people and to reatail the syrian acts of war agains turkey. a blitzkrieg against syria would be won in 14 days.

Murat

6/25/2012 7:25:01 PM

F4 was NOT a pile of junk. It was a very powerful counter measures and electronic intelligence platform. Age of the plane does not matter. It was not armed. It was only recently loaded with modern electronic warfare pods. There is a lot more where it came from. They just did not expect such hostility I guess. A huge mistake.

Aslam Benli

6/25/2012 5:51:49 PM

OK, this crosses the line. If we do not send a strong message, Syria will have no respect for our country's military. Assad will feel emboldened and will increase the massacre on his own people. Be sure that more "accidents" will happen and they will open fire to our planes and/or troops in the border whenever they want.

vatan oglu

6/25/2012 11:41:01 AM

You peiple have no sense or understanding the f4 that wa downed was upgraded less then 5 years ago by germany it was advanced but luck runs out at times that plane was a recon plane am sure it warned the pilots of lock on but was to low to avoid the hit our pilots are well trained in combat it was just luck but what ever goes round comes round I'm sure turkay has atleast 300 more f4 around . Search and u will. Understand jokers

vedos mick

6/25/2012 7:58:16 AM

And Turkey did nothing??!!??! Too much beaurocracy and not enough decisions....ugh.

ilker avni

6/25/2012 6:38:35 AM

This only goes to show that the turkish warplane are outdated piles of junk,if this was a f-16 it would never have been shot down because of the advanced gadgets it has warning of any enemy gun batteries or missiles sites,the apachi equipment can see upto two hundred enemy targets or threats in a minute and it takes them out accordingly.The Turkish Airforce use old planes that are forty years old.Had they been useing the f-16 the pilots would have been warned of any threats.

Murat

6/25/2012 1:11:14 AM

Yes, now the next important matter. The digital memory in the electronic pod of the downed plane contains the signatures of the S300 search, track and terminal radars, more valuable than any gold. We shall see how much Syrians cooperate in the retrieaval efforts.
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