Turkey says downed jet may have strayed into Syrian airspace
|Publisher||Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty|
|Publication Date||22 June 2012|
|Cite as||Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, Turkey says downed jet may have strayed into Syrian airspace, 22 June 2012, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4ff6aa3419.html [accessed 13 July 2014]|
June 22, 2012
Turkey's President Abdullah Gul has said that a Turkish jet shot down by Syria may have strayed into Syrian airspace.
But Gul said it is, nevertheless, not possible for Turkey to ignore the incident.
Gul made the remarks after Syria officially confirmed that it had shot down a Turkish jet on June 22. It is thought to have crashed into the Mediterranean near the sea borders of both countries.
Syrian military officials say the downed Turkish plane was flying at a low altitude and high speed just one kilometer off the Syrian coast when it was shot down. They say its flight pattern indicated it was not on a routine training mission.
Gul also was quoted by Turkey's state news agency, Anatolia, as saying that everything that needs to be done following the incident "will be done."
"We are now trying to determine exactly where the jet was shot down. After this discovery, all necessary measures will be taken," Gul said.
The office of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan says Ankara will decide on a course of action once all the facts are in.
The navies of Turkey and Syria sent search-and-rescue ships out on June 23 in what they said was a joint searching of the Mediterranean Sea for signs of wreckage and for the two pilots aboard the downed jet. But the Turkish ships returned to Turkey's shores in the evening with no word about the missing pilots.
'Not Fighter Plane'
Meanwhile, Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc on June 23 denied reports suggesting that the downed Turkish jet was a fighter plane.
Turkey has U.S.-built F-4 fighter jets in its air force – an aircraft that carries two pilots. But it also has two-seater training planes that are used to take photographs of conditions on the ground.
Turkish authorities are hosting thousands of opposition fighters who are fighting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, as well as some 32,000 refugees who have fled from the Syrian government's brutal 16-month crackdown on dissent.
The situation has fostered bitter hostility between the two former allies.
Turkey has called on Assad to resign. Turkey also has withdrawn its diplomatic personnel from Syria, saying their safety was in danger.
Meanwhile, fighting is continuing in northern Syria near the border with Turkey between Assad loyalists and the opposition Free Syria Army.
Signals from both sides suggest neither wants a military confrontation over the incident.
With the second-biggest military force in NATO – and with troops hardened by nearly 30 years of fighting Kurdish rebels – Turkey would be a formidable foe for a Syrian military already struggling to put down a popular uprising and an increasingly potent insurgency.
Based on AP, dpa, and AFP reports