Turkey to consult NATO over jet downed by Syria

By REUTERS
June 24, 2012 13:36

Jet unarmed, flying solo on test mission, Turkey says; Syria news agency reports border forces confronted 'terrorists' from Turkey.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu 390 (R). (photo credit: REUTERS/Osman Orsal )

ANKARA - Turkey said on Sunday Syria had shot down its military aircraft in international airspace on Friday without warning and declared it would formally consult its NATO allies on a reaction.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, speaking some 48 hours after the jet was shot down near both countries' sea borders, told state broadcaster TRT the plane had been clearly marked as Turkish and dismissed Syria's earlier statement it had not known the plane belonged to Turkey.

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He said the downed jet was unarmed and had been on a solo mission to test domestic radar systems and that the flight had no connection to the crisis in neighboring Syria.

"Our plane was shot at a distance of 13 sea miles from Syria's border in international airspace," Davutoglu said.

"According to the radar images, our plane lost contact with headquarters after it was hit and because the pilot lost control, it crashed into Syrian waters after making abnormal movements," he said. "Throughout this entire period no warning was made to our plane."

Against the backdrop of heightened tensions, a report emerged Sunday that that Syrian border forces confronted "terrorists" who had infiltrated from Turkey and killed several of them. The official Syrian state news agency said the incident occurred near a Syrian border post in the province of Latakia. It did not give further details. The two countries share a border around 600 km long.

The shooting down of the aircraft has added a further serious international dimension to the 16-month-old uprising against Syrian President Bashar Assad, that Turkey, along with other Western and Arab countries, has supported on the world diplomatic stage.

Turkey is giving shelter to the rebel Free Syria Army (FSA), and accommodating refugees on its southeastern border with Syria, some 50 km (30 miles) from where the Turkish aircraft was shot down. But it denies providing arms for the insurgents.


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