Turkish pilots killed by Syrian intelligence, Al Arabiya claims
ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily NewsTwo Turkish pilots thought to have perished when their jet was shot down by Damascus on June 22 were actually rescued, interrogated and murdered by Syrian intelligence services, secret documents released tonight by Saudi Arabia’s Al Arabiya news channel purport to show.
“Two Turkish pilots were captured by the Syrian Air Force Intelligence after their jet was shot down in coordination with the Russian naval base in [the Syrian city of] Tartus,” according to a document released by Al-Arabiya that was allegedly sent directly from President Bashar al-Assad’s office to Brig. Hassan Abdel Rahman, the chief of Syria’s Special Operations Unit.
The document reportedly ordered the concerned parties to treat the two pilots, Air Force Cpt. Gökhan Ertan and Air Force Lt. Hasan Hüseyin Aksoy, according to the protocol of war prisoners, while also requesting that both men be investigated about Turkey’s role in supporting the Free Syrian Army, the main group of opposition militants fighting to overthrow Syria’s government.
The documents suggest the possibility of transferring Ertan and Aksoy into the custody of Syrian ally Hezbollah in Lebanon, but a subsequent file expressed the need to “eliminate” the two pilots. “Based on information and guidance from the Russian leadership, comes a need to eliminate the two Turkish pilots detained by the Special Operations Unit in a natural way, and their bodies need to be returned to the crash site in international waters,” the document said.
The documents, which have not been independently verified, were obtained with the assistance of members of the Syrian opposition, who refused to explain how they accessed the files.
Turkey has long said Syria shot the pilots’ plane down in international waters, while Syria has claimed it shot the plane down in its territorial waters with an anti-aircraft gun.
There was no immediate comment from the Turkish Foreign Ministry.
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