Assad wishes Turkish jet 'not downed'

2012-07-03 12:02

Istanbul - Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told a Turkish newspaper he wished Syrian forces had not shot down a Turkish jet last month and that he would not allow the tensions between the two countries to turn into open combat.

He added, however, that he might have been "happy" if the doomed jet had been Israeli.

"We learned that it [the aircraft] belonged to Turkey after shooting it down. I say 100% 'if only we had not shot it down'," the Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted Assad as saying in an interview published on Tuesday.

His comments emerged as fighting raged throughout Syria to unseat Assad in what is increasingly taking on the character of an all-out civil war, fuelled by sectarian hatred.

Syrian helicopters bombarded a Damascus suburb on Monday and Turkey scrambled warplanes near the border in the north, as the UN human rights chief warned that arms supplies to both the government and rebels were deepening the 16-month conflict.

Asked whether the tensions between Syria and Turkey could lead to war, Assad said: "We will not allow [the tensions] to turn into open combat between the two countries, which would harm them both."

He also said Syria had not amassed and would not amass military forces along the Turkish border, whatever action Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government takes.

Heightened military activity

The paper did not specify when the interview was held, but in it Assad refers to an international meeting held in Geneva on Saturday under the auspices of peace envoy Kofi Annan.

Turkey has heightened military activity along its southern border since Syria shot down the Turkish jet over the Mediterranean on 22 June, prompting a sharp rebuke from Ankara which said it would respond "decisively".

Syria says it shot down the Turkish jet in self-defence and that it was brought down in Syrian air space. Turkey says the jet accidentally violated Syrian air space for a few minutes but was brought down in international air space.

Assad said Syria would not shy away from apologising if it emerged that the aircraft was shot down in international airspace.

"The plane was using a corridor which Israeli planes have used three times before. Soldiers shot it down because we did not see it on our radar and because information was not given."

"Of course I might have been happy if this had been an Israeli plane," Assad said.

14 generals

Meanwhile an AFP report stated on Tuesday that dozens of Syrian soldiers including top officers defected to Turkey on Monday, citing the Anatolia news agency.

The 85 soldiers who fled include one general and other senior officials, the agency said, citing local officials.

The latest defections bring to 14 the number of Syrian generals to have crossed into Turkey, abandoning the Assad regime.

The latest group of soldiers crossed into Turkey at Reyhanli, in the south of the country. They were part of a group of 293 people including many women and children.

Turkey is already sheltering more than 35 000 Syria refugees including many deserters from the country's military.

  • leonard.rom.7 - 2012-07-03 12:39

    you cant shoot an israeli jet they too good bone head

  • burtfred.brown - 2012-07-03 12:57

    Assad ralises that he is in the deep dwang because Turkey is part of Nato. Israel is not part of Nato.

  • Hermann - 2012-07-03 13:01

    Fairy tales lies 50% the other 50% pertains to Israel and Syria can't even take the Golan Hights back, but they can kill their own people in the name of clinging to power.

  • sisie.indola - 2012-07-03 13:11

    It must be in the water. He denied shooting down the Turkish jet and now he says they knew just after they shot it down. Eish! These clowns that people have running their countries are a nightmare. Do they mass produce them somewhere? You are going down....down....down. Do you think he is now trying to make brownie points?

  • Greg - 2012-07-03 13:16

    Interesting....Comments removed.. Looks like N24 have an Agenda to push... I must have hit a sensitive spot.

      cameronrh1 - 2012-07-03 13:46

      What was the comment they removed?

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-03 13:49

      It turns out that News24 is an agreement-only area!

      customdesign - 2012-07-03 14:15

      News 24 - 1 Stupid Comments - 0 :D

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-03 14:56

      Fidel, Told you before; If you don't like News24, go and find an English language Iranian site, or you worried that instead of 98 % of readers not liking your comments, it will be 100 % ???

      jaba.kov - 2012-07-03 15:57

      They removed my comment... President Assad is in deep trouble over the recent downing of a turkish warplane by syrian forces and he is trying a clever diversionary tactic of blaming Israel. Assad knows full well that the even though the religion of peace can not get along with its own brethren, as seen through all the blood that is spilling by “brother killing brother” in the Middle East and North Africa – one thing does bring them all together and that is detestation for Israel… only this time its too late for Assad… His use of the sad “hate-Israel party” is not going to save him or his family who will all pay their price very soon God willing.

      fidel.mgoqi - 2012-07-03 18:26

      @Anthony Group think?

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-03 18:40

      No, I actually enjoy reading different opinions, as long as they are not full of of hatred, being racist and full of filth. You know what I am talking about; Comments like Patrick makes, are really unpleasant to read !!!

  • almeleh - 2012-07-03 14:23

    The first 3 letters of Assad says it all.

  • mundu.olewega - 2012-07-03 14:48

    Another mad dog.

      blackjew69 - 2012-07-03 16:29

      Suppporting these israelis and americans is same as being a satanist. These people are all bullies and cheats, taking from anyone they can lay their hands on, Th eamericans have killed millions of africans, in nigeria, egypyt, sudan, zimbabwe(thanks to bob)zim survived a little,siera leon, ivory coast, MALI, all these wars are started and funded by these europeans who want nothing but to plunder our resources.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-03 16:52

      Blackjew my foot. There's little point in making things up to suit your prejudices. They're made up, devoid of truth, therefore irrelevant and ineffective. Protesting violently doesn't make them more true either.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-03 14:58

    One of these days, this DOG will wish, he never returned to Syria !!!

  • jaba.kov - 2012-07-03 16:00

    The last time Syria tried to engage the Israeli Air Force, the ground and sea were littered with 82 downed Syrian MiGs -- including many which were piloted by Russians. No Israeli losses. The last time Syrian radar tried to engage the Israeli Air Force; the IAF flew clear across Syria and took out Syria's budding nuclear wet dream. No Israeli losses. The last thing on earth Assad should want to do right now is rile Israel. The entire international community has proven impotent enough with respect to dealing with Assad, but Israel can settle Syria's hash in no time at all. Israel has done it before, and wouldn't have much of a problem doing it again. The chinless fool in Damascus really needs to keep that in mind.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-03 16:55

      Do you know how foolish you look? Your manipulations are dumb. Only for dumb people.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-03 18:12

      Patrick, Well you have found yourself, at long last, a good friend, and although I did not think it was possible, but he even talks more CRAP and BS than you !!! Congratulations !!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-03 19:08

      My comment was to Blackjew :)

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-03 20:39


      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-03 21:22

      Ok Patrick, now go and give yourself a thumbs up! You deserve it !!!

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-07-03 21:33

      I didn't agree with you. I thanked you because your opposing view confirms to me that I'm on the right track.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-03 22:27

      This evening I will agree with everybody, its been a fun day. It started this morning when Richard said in a comment, that saif gaddafi was in jail because he did not have permit !!!!!!!!!! AND.......that is camel had no licence!!!!!!!!!!!!! Hahahahahahahahahaha I have been laughing the whole day, first I thought he was having us on, but he is dead serious !!!! NO FISHING PERMIT.............HAHAHAHAHAHAAH

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