Many questions linger over downed Turkish jet
ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Two staff are working at a US ship Nautilus, which found the wreckage of a Turkish F4 war plane which was shot down by Syria over the Mediterranean Sea on June 22. Nautilus also retrieved the bodies of the two missing pilots from the jet. AA photoAlthough it has been over two weeks since the Turkish jet was downed by Syria, and almost a week since its wreckage was found in the seabed last week, a number of vital questions over exactly how and where the incident took place have still not been answered. Lingering questions remain as to whether the RF-4E was shot down by a laser-guided missile or an anti-aircraft weapon, and whether it was hit inside or outside Syrian airspace.
“We have been informed that our jet was downed in international airspace. But there are still so many dark points about it. We demand [the government] publicizes the autopsy reports [of the two pilots],” Kemal Kılıçdaroğlu, leader of the opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) said yesterday in a party meeting. “I repeat my calls to Russia, the United States and the United Kingdom to share the information they have with the world. I believe that many points will be clarified when they do this.”
Syrian security forces shot down an unarmed Turkish jet on June 22, around 13 nautical miles off the Syrian coast in international airspace. Unveiling all the unanswered details as to how the incident occurred would only be possible with the conclusion of the technical analysis on the wreckage.
The Chief of General Staff is expected to explain details in the coming days, after the completion of the ongoing technical study on the parts of the jet. However, initial findings have not yet proved that the jet was downed by a laser-guided missile, the defense minister said over the weekend. “Works are continuing. We will retrieve [all remaining parts of the wreckage]. We will provide the best and most accurate information when we have completed the work,” İsmet Yılmaz said. The information that the jet might have been shot down by a laser-guided missile was first announced on June 25 by Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç, after the first weekly cabinet meeting that followed the downing of the jet.
Davutoğlu is a little Enver: Kılıçdaroğlu
The issue will continue to be an important domestic political issue, with Kılıçdaroğlu continuing to press Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu to shed light on the incident. “We want to know how our pilots were killed.
An American newspaper made an allegation, and it has not been denied by the U.S. The government has a duty to correctly inform public opinion,” he stated. Kılıçdaroğlu also spoke of his call to the government to officially demand radar traces and other intelligence from three countries that have radars and other means of surveillance in the region.
“We have issued a general call to all countries. We have not officially been given any information. We are sure about own findings. But whoever wants to challenge us should introduce own records,” a diplomatic source told the Hürriyet Daily News. While repeating his criticisms against the government over its Syria policy, Kılıçdaroğlu compared Davutoğlu with Enver Pasha, one of the leading commanders of the Ottoman Army during World War I, who many historians believe caused the weak empire to enter into the war. Kılıçdaroğlu called Davutoğlu “little Enver,” implying that he was trying to stage a war with Syria.
“What’s your problem with Syria? Well, they say there is no democracy in Syria. Do you have democracy in your country?” Kılıçdaroğlu asked, adding: “Is there democracy in Bahrain? In Qatar, Bahrain?”
‘Surprised to find bodies’
In the meantime, the captain of the U.S. flagged hydrographic vessel Nautilus, which helped the Turkish military spot the wreckage, said they were surprised to find the bodies of two pilots on the seabed. “When the boots and helmets of the pilots were found on the surface, I thought our pilots were in the hands of the Syrians, like everyone in Turkey,” the captain said.