ISTANBUL - Syrian President Bashar 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.

"We learned that it (the plane) belonged to Turkey after shooting it down. I say 100 percent 'if only we had not shot it down'," the Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted Assad as saying in an interview published on Tuesday. It was not immediately clear when the interview was conducted.

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