Turkish FM calls al-Assad as a ‘liar’

Turkish FM calls al-Assad as a ‘liar’

ANKARA - Hürriyet Daily News
Turkish FM calls al-Assad as a ‘liar’

A Turkish F-16 fighter jet approaches the tarmac at İncirlik air base in the southern Turkish city of Adana. Turkey says Syria downed its F4 jet in international waters. REUTERS photo

Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s recent statement that his country’s defense forces did not know a Turkish fighter jet’s identity when shooting it down was “a lie,” Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu has said. He added that he did not believe the Syrian leader regretted the incident as he claimed.

Al-Assad misrepresented the truth in his recent interview with daily Cumhuriyet, Davutoğlu told daily Vatan yesterday.

Davutoğlu rejected al-Assad’s claim that the downed Turkish plane was flying in an air corridor used in the past by the Israeli Air Force. “He admitted Israel permanently violated their airspace. If so, which Israeli plane have they shot so far? Furthermore, Syria has already declared war on Israel,” the foreign minister said. “Although they did not carry out such an attack against Israel, their attack against us clearly shows that they don’t have goodwill for us.”

Either al-Assad also lied when he said Syrian radar had not detected the Turkish jet, or Syria’s air defense was not as strong as they claimed, Davutoğlu said, adding that every move of the Turkish aircraft was open to international observation.

“Another lie is that they could not find anyone to call,” the minister said, referring to al-Assad’s claim that Syrian authorities could not contact Turkish officials about the incident. Davutoğlu said Turkey’s consulate in Aleppo and the Turkish ambassador to Syria, who is currently in Turkey, were still active. Al-Assad is “cunningly” trying to restore the Syrian administration’s relations with the Turkish Army, the minister said. Turkey would not allow that and would not continue military ties with an army “murdering its people,” Davutoğlu said.

Turkey and Syria worked on a joint statement on the night of June 22, when Turkish jet was shot down, and Ankara proposed setting up a commission to investigate the incident, Davutoğlu said. “Their intelligence chief did not accept our proposal. In reply to our demands, they laid down the precondition of restoring bilateral ties. ... They tried to turn the communication conducted about the downing of our plane into a gain.”

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has made Turkey a party to Syria’s bloodshed by interfering in Damascus’ internal affairs and by giving logistical support to the rebels, al-Assad said, calling on Ankara to stop meddling in his country’s affairs.

‘Turkey party to violence’
“Turkey’s desire to interfere in Syria’s internal affairs has put it in a position which unfortunately makes it a party to all the bloody activities” in Syria, he told daily Cumhuriyet in an interview published yesterday, the first part of which was published a day ago. “Turkey has supplied all manner of logistic support to the terrorists who have killed our people,” said al-Assad. He further accused Erdoğan of being motivated by “sectarian instincts.”

In a separate incident, a forest fire broke out Kasab town of Syrian Latakia province near the border quickly spreaded to Yayladağı in Turkey’s southern Hatay province. Turkish firefighters were trying to contain the flames.