Turkey still probes jet hit as US, UK pass info

Turkey still probes jet hit as US, UK pass info

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkey still probes jet hit as US, UK pass info

The US Ambassador to Turkey Ricciardone says Washington has given all the information it has on the downed jet. AA photo

A Turkish jet downed on June 22 was definitely not shot down by anti-aircraft fire as suggested by Syrian officials, the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) said July 13, while also making clear once more that the jet was shot down by Syria.

“In light of the recent criminal investigations, it has been established that there is no possibility that our fallen jet was shot down by anti-aircraft fire, as had initially been suggested by Syrian authorities,” the TSK said in a written statement posted on its official website.

A July 11 written statement on TSK’s official website had led to confusion, because it had declined to use the term “shot down by Syria” for the first time. It instead referred to: “our plane that Syria claimed to have shot down.” With its statement on July 13, the TSK reiterated that the jet was “shot down” by Syria, while, however, noting that how it was shot down by Syria would be established after the entire research was finalized. The TSK, however, did not elaborate on the reason for the changed expression in July 11’s statement.

Missile possibility also ruled out

Meanwhile, a high level meeting between military and state officials was held on July 13 hours before President Abdullah Gül and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu met in Ankara on July 13, a senior Turkish official told the Hürriyet Daily News on condition of anonymity. The meeting ended before TSK’s latest statement. Officals also ruled out the possiblity that the jet has been hit by a missile.

Citing three indicators, no missile track on radar, no petroleum-like residue or trace of any organic or inorganic explosive matter on the surface of the pieces from the downed jet and no scorch over the bodies of pilots, a ranking official denied that the missile hit the jet.

“After the significant pieces [of the jet] on the seabed are recovered and their technical examination is finished, it will be possible to find out how our plane was shot down by Syria,” the latest TSK statement read. The currently halted wreck rescue will restart shortly, the TSK noted, without giving a specific date.

US, UK deliver data over downed plane

Sevil Küçükkoşum - ANKARA

The United States and the United Kingdom have handed over the information they have on the Turkish jet shot down by Syria, according to their officials.

The U.S. Ambassador to Turkey Francis Ricciardone has said the U.S. has given all the information it has on the downed plane incident to Turkish officials, and both sides’ information do not contradict with each other.

It was Turkish officials who encouraged the U.S. to deliver a statement on the issue, in a bid to clarify speculation in media reports on the downed jet, the Daily News has learned.

Britain, which has military base in Greek Cyprus [Dikelia base], has also given records to Turkey on the downed jet. “We have given as much as we can to Turkish authorities,” a British official told the Hürriyet Daily News June 13. The information the British have also does not contradict with Turkey’s findings so far.

Ricciardone told the Anatolia news agency late on July 12 that the shooting down of the Turkish jet without any warning is unacceptable, and U.S. technical research teams are collaborating with the Turkish navy.

In reply to a question on media reports from U.S. sources, the ambassador said anonymous sources did not represent the U.S. government.

U.S. officials know the details about a Turkish jet downed by Syria last month but have no intention of informing the press about them, according to a senior U.S. state department official, daily Hürriyet reported on June 11.

Through the remarks by Ricciardone, Turkey apparently wanted to allay confusion over apparent contradictions emerging in official accounts of the incident. The whole Turkish thesis about the military jet downed by Syria was overshadowed by a statement released by the Turkish General Staff on July 11, which declined to use the term “shot down by Syria” and instead referred to “our plane that Syria claimed to have destroyed.” In military releases on June 28, July 1 and July 5, the plane was unequivocally described as having been “downed by Syria.”

Turkey’s claim that Syria shot down its jet with a missile has been called into question after a military examination on the remains of the Phantom F-4 failed to find any trace of explosives on the aircraft’s wreckage.

Amid mounting speculation, President Abdullah Gül met with Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu on July 13. Officials from the Foreign Ministry played down any special significance of the timing of the meeting, saying Davutoğlu would inform Gül about overall developments in Syria.

Meanwhile, diplomatic sources said that no information regarding the incident had yet been handed over to Turkey by Russia. In his visit to Russia on July 18, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is expected to ask for any records about the plane that Moscow has, according to Turkish officials.

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