Turkey avoids commenting on Al Arabiya claims
Hürriyet file photo
Turkish Foreign Ministry officials avoided commenting on the Al Arabiya report, referring reporters instead to the findings of the autopsy the Turkish General Staff performed on the pilots’ bodies.
Al Arabiya claims not credible, says retired general
A retired Turkish general has dismissed claims that Syria covered up the murder of two Turkish pilots in June, saying the country lacked the technology to place the bodies next to their downed plane, daily Hürriyet has reported.
"You will first find the wreckage at 1200 to 1300 meters, and then you will place the bodies of the pilots in there," said Erdoğan Karakuş, who is also an air force expert.
"This is not very credible. Syria does not have the technology to do it, and wouldn't the Turkish Naval Forces notice [Syria placing the bodies back in the water]?" he said.
The claims were aired last night on Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya news channel, which said it had been handed top-secret Syrian government document by the opposition purporting to show that Damascus first ordered the interrogation of the two pilots, Air Force Cpt. Gökhan Ertan and Air Force Lt. Hasan Hüseyin Aksoy, before ordering their “elimination” on the basis of “guidance from the Russian leadership.”
“Every move in that area is closely watched," Karakuş said. "This may be a trick to pin Turkey and Russia against each other."
Turkey has long said Syria shot the pilots’ plane down in international waters, while Syria has claimed it shot the plane down about 100 meters off its shore with an anti-aircraft gun.
The incident occurred on June 22.