Turkey vows action for downing jet

2012-06-23 19:09

Ankara - Turkey will take retaliatory steps against Syria for the downing of one of its military jets, President Abdullah Gul said on Saturday, even as he suggested that the aircraft may have violated Syrian airspace.

It was not clear if Gul was suggesting military retaliation, increased sanctions against Syria or other possible steps, including demands for an apology, and his aide would not comment on his words.

But Faruk Celik, Turkey's Labour and Social Security Minister, said Turkey would retaliate "either in the diplomatic field or give other types of response".

"Even if we assume that there was a violation of Syria's airspace - though the situation is still not clear - the Syrian response cannot be to bring down the plane," Celik told reporters.

"The incident is unacceptable," he said. "Turkey cannot endure it in silence."

Syrian forces shoot down plane

Syria said on Friday its forces had shot down a Turkish military plane that entered its air space. The plane, an unarmed F-4, went down in the Mediterranean Sea about 13km from the Syrian town of Latakia, Turkey said.

The incident further escalated tensions between Syria and Nato-member Turkey. The two neighbours used to be allies before the Syrian revolt began in March 2011, but Turkey has become one of the strongest critics of the Syrian regime's brutal response to the country's uprising and is playing host to civilian and military Syrian opposition groups.

In Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said the recent defection of a Syrian pilot to Jordan and the downing of the Turkish jet showed that the Syrian conflict could have far-reaching repercussions.

"Our main concern is the spillover of the crisis into neighbourhood countries. No country is immune from this spillover," he said.

"If this conflict were to turn into all-out sectarian or civil war, Iraq would be affected, Lebanon would be affected, Jordan would not be immune, Turkey could be (affected)."

‘No further escalation in region’

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he was "greatly worried" by the incident, urged a thorough investigation and welcomed Turkey's cool-headed reaction in the incident's immediate aftermath.

"Everything must be done to ensure that there won't be any further escalation in the already tense region,' he said in a statement.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davuoglu chaired a meeting Saturday with military officials during which they discussed possible steps and a search and rescue mission for the two missing pilots, the Foreign Ministry said. There was no announcement after the meeting.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc insisted the plane was not a fighter jet but a reconnaissance plane and said Turkey was awaiting an explanation from Syria.

The president said Turkey was still trying to establish the exact circumstances of the incident, but said it was "routine" for jets flying in high-speeds to unintentionally violate other countries' air spaces for short periods of time.

"These incidents are routine," Gul said. "They are incidents that are not ill-intentioned and happen because of the speeds (of the jets)."

"Was that the case, or did (the incident) occur in our own air space, these facts will emerge," he said. "No one should have any doubt that whatever (action) is necessary will be taken."

‘Unidentified aerial target’

Gul did not elaborate. But Turkey said after an April border shooting incident - in which two people inside a Turkish refugee camp died - that it would call on its Nato allies to intervene should it feel its security was being threatened.

Syrian coast guards joined Turkish coast guards in their search for the jet's two missing crew members for a second day on Saturday, Arinc, the deputy prime minister said. Gul said earlier that some pieces of the wreckage had been found.

Late Friday, Syria's state-run news agency, SANA, said the military had spotted an "unidentified aerial target" flying at low altitude and high speed.

"The Syrian anti-air defences counteracted with anti-aircraft artillery, hitting it directly," Sana said. "The target turned out to be a Turkish military plane that entered Syrian airspace and was dealt with according to laws observed in such cases."

Syria claimed the jet violated its air space over territorial waters, penetrating about a kilometre. It said Syrian forces only realised that it was a Turkish jet after firing.

On Saturday, the banner headline of Turkish newspaper Hurriyet accused Syria of "Playing with Fire," while Vatan newspaper said Syria would "pay the price" for the attack.


Arinc and other government ministers however, urged restraint.

"We must remain calm and collected," he said. "We must not give premium to any provocative speeches and acts."

The leader of Turkey's main opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said the downing of the plane was unacceptable but also urged calm.

"All diplomatic channels must be kept open. We are expecting a coolheaded assessment of the incident," he added.

  • fred.fraser.12 - 2012-06-23 21:33

    Yesterday four top military commanders absconded from the Syrian military, yet there's not a word about this on News24.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-06-23 22:03

      Nor of a Syrian Air Force Mig jet,whose brave pilot, landed it in Jordan, also yesterday ! !

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-06-23 23:53

      As Syrians themselves will tell you, the problem is the freer world is not involved in Syria, not that it is. In any event, the CIA's involvement in ensuring the arms Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are giving the Syrian free army, to make sure these arms get into the right hands, has been reported right here. I'm not looking forward to the end of Assad and his family. It's likely to be gruesome and ugly, worse than Gaddafi.

      rude.awakning - 2012-06-24 07:14

      in the freer world that's calked political assassination and premeditated state terrorism!!!!!! You have repeatedly denied CIA, MOSSAD and BRIT FORCES involvement in these instigated uprisings, and NOW stated that CIA are involved to ensure these weapons (Russian made No Doubt) get into the ''right hands''! You speak with forked tongue!!! Now i am convinced that you are a paid agent of uncle sam! no wonder you comments were always biased and well rehearsed!! ''The blood of these innocents are on your hands! What were you thinking man!' your famous and hopefully last words!'

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-06-25 07:38


      pierre.devilliers.9231 - 2012-06-25 10:54

      Syria has a dictatorship for decades now that has on occasion assisted the West and the US (e.g. 1st Iraq war), but is mainly aligned to Russia and Iran, with weaponry from Russia and assistance from Iran. Bahrain has a dictatorship for decades that is mainly aligned to the West and US, with weaponry from the US and assistance from at least Saudi. Both Syria and Bahrain has uprisings, protests and armed rebels. Both countries suppress the uprisings brutally. However what we have is the US pumping weapons into Syria, and supplying military expertise, creating a civil war. The only imbalance here is that the Russians have not yet on large scale helped the “poor defenseless protesters” in Bahrain and supply them with weapons and military advice. When that happens we will have two civil wars instead of one with its associate massive civilian casualties in the name of “democracy”. But of course all you lot that support intervention in Syria, that think its ok to supply rebels with weapons, will then cry blue murder. I only see massive hypocrisy in the modern day West.

  • rude.awakning - 2012-06-24 07:30

    modern jets, modern instrumentation!! What utter nonsense that you unintentionally violated a neighbouring country's airspace, who just happen to be on the alert for possible Nato allied attacks (turkey is a nato member!)!! it was nothing short of an act of provocation, and further to serve as an excuse for turkey to requested Nato's assistance as its ''security'' is at risk!! Yaah right! You bigots are so predictable! Why dont you invade already? The suspense is 'killing''!!!

  • norman.resado - 2012-06-24 08:44

    These 2 countries must restrain themselves becoz we do not want another war.The proper channel must be followed to resolve the issue

  • pierre.devilliers.9231 - 2012-06-24 08:44

    I know lives are at stake etc and everybody is upset, but just BTW, looking at it purely militarily and technically, it must have been an extremely good or extremely lucky shot to shoot down a P-4 at full speed with artillery. It depends of course what exactly the “artillery” equipment was; maybe high speed Gatling style guns. (I have no doubt it was shot down, but with a jet-fighter capable of more than Mach2 and clearly reported to be at full speed as reconnaissance spy-planes do; one would think a ground to air missile more likely; but definitely not a gun piece as shown in the associated photo to the article. But that just BTW.)

  • lesui07 - 2012-06-24 17:07

    The Syrian army has been preparing for a war with Israel and their air defence system is up to scratch. Turkey wanted to test their air defence and I do n't why they are complaining. Syrian army is ready.

      wallace.outkast - 2012-06-25 10:50

      exactly they where given a straight answer...hahaha

  • lesui07 - 2012-06-24 17:07

    The Syrian army has been preparing for a war with Israel and their air defence system is up to scratch. Turkey wanted to test their air defence and I do n't why they are complaining. Syrian army is ready for any aggressor.

      fred.fraser.12 - 2012-06-25 07:37

      And you'd want this why?

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