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Turkey threatens action after Syria downs jet

TheCommander

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A picture dated September 2004 showing a Turkish F-4 Phantom Fighter jet at an undisclosed location.

24 June 2012 / AP, ANKARA

Syria said Saturday it shot down a Turkish reconnaissance plane because the plane entered its airspace, insisting it was "not an attack" as both sides desperately tried to de-escalate the episode before it exploded into a regional conflagration.

Turkey threatened to retaliate but did not say what action it would take as it searched for the aircraft's two missing pilots.

The downed plane heightened tensions between two countries that had been allies before Syria's 15-month violent uprising, and signaled that the violence gripping Syria is increasingly bleeding outside its borders. Germany and Iraq were among the countries urging restraint in the region.

Syria and neighboring Turkey had cultivated close ties before the Syrian revolt began in March 2011, but since then Turkey has become one of the strongest critics of Syria's regime. Turkey hosts civilian and military Syrian opposition groups, including hundreds of army defectors who are affiliated with the Free Syrian Army and collect food and other supplies to deliver to comrades on smuggling routes.

Turkish authorities also suspect Damascus, which was collaborating with Turkey in its fight against autonomy-seeking Kurdish rebels, is now turning a blind eye to Syria-based Kurdish fighters who belong to the Kurdistan Workers' Party, or PKK, considered a terrorist organization in the U.S. and Europe.

The plane, an unarmed F-4, went down in the Mediterranean Sea about eight miles (13 kilometers) from the Syrian town of Latakia, Turkey said. Syria claimed the jet violated its air space over territorial waters, penetrating about 1 kilometer (0.62 mile). It said Syrian forces only realized it was a Turkish jet after firing at it.

In a telephone interview with Turkish TV news channel A Haber on Saturday, Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the downing was "not an attack."

"An unidentified object entered our air space and unfortunately as a result it was brought down. It was understood only later that it was a Turkish plane," A Haber quoted Makdissi in a translation of the interview. "There was no hostile act against Turkey whatsoever. It was just an act of defense for our sovereignty."

Turkish President Abdullah Gul conceded the plane may have unintentionally crossed into Syrian airspace, but said such an act was "routine" for jets to unintentionally cross borders for short periods. The government has not described the plane's specific mission.

Gul said his government was still investigating what happened, but "no one should have any doubt that whatever (action) is necessary will be taken."

It was not clear if that action would involve military retaliation, increased sanctions or other steps, including demands for compensation or an apology.

Faruk Celik, the Turkish Labor and Social Security Minister, said his nation 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. Turkey cannot endure it in silence."

Germany and Iraq urged the countries to remain calm and not let the unrest in Syria become a wider conflict,

"Our main concern is the spillover of the crisis into neighborhood countries. No country is immune from this spillover," said Iraq Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari.

Turkey has joined the United States and other nations in saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad should step down because of the uprising in his country that has killed thousands of people. Turkey also has set up refugee camps on its border for more than 32,000 Syrians who have fled the fighting.

Turkey said after an April border shooting incident - in which two people in a Turkish refugee camp died- that it would call on its NATO allies to intervene if it felt its security was being threatened.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with military officials Saturday to assess what steps to take and to coordinate the search and rescue operation for the two missing pilots and the plane's wreckage, the ministry said. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to discuss the incident with Turkish opposition party leaders on Sunday, and the foreign minister would make a statement on the same day, an aide said.

A Turkish official familiar with the meeting said Turkey was examining the plane's radar route and other flight data to ascertain whether the aircraft was flying over Syrian territory when it was shot down. The official spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief journalists and would provide no further details.

Turkey, which is uneasy about Greek Cypriot gas exploration efforts around the island, is believed to have increased patrols recently over the eastern Mediterranean. Some analysts have speculated that the plane may have been spying on possible PKK rebels near Turkey's border. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton earlier this month warned about a massing of Syrian forces near Aleppo, saying such a deployment could be a "red line" for Turkey "in terms of their strategic and national interests."

In Baghdad, Zebari said Saturday that 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.

"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, (and) Turkey could be (affected)."

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 immediate aftermath.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told Turkey Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu in a telephone conversation Saturday that he was concerned about the implications of the incident for the region but commended Turkey for showing restraint in its reaction, said U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky. Ban urged both sides to address the situation diplomatically, Nesirky said.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc and other government ministers 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 he also urged calm.

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

Turkey threatens action after Syria downs jet

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We will see what will happen...
 

Martian2

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What if the Syrians thought they were shooting down a NATO spy plane?

Of course, you can argue the Turkish F-4 Phantom was a NATO spy plane conducting aerial reconnaissance of Syrian coastal air defenses. :yes4:

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Reference: Turkey admits plane strayed - TwinCities.com

[Note: Thank you to CardSharp for the newslink.]
 

VelocuR

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Confrontation between Syria and Turkey will not lead to war with NATO
Jorge Benitez | June 23, 2012



From James Joyner, the New Atlanticist: [T]he operative word that almost certainly disqualifies this incident from an Article 5 response is "attack." Turkey was engaged in aggressive action along its border with Syria during a particularly tense situation and flew into Syrian airspace. While shooting down the plane was almost certainly an overreaction--the Assad government has said as much--it's hardly an "attack."

Ultimately, like the "high crimes and misdemeanor" threshold for impeachment set forth by the US Constitution, it's a judgment call. In the former case, the House of Representatives makes the call; in the latter, it's the North Atlantic Council.

But it's virtually inconceivable that the NAC would deem this to be a qualifying "attack." First, Article 5 couches the response in terms of "the right of individual or collective self-defence recognised by Article 51 of the Charter of the United Nations." An overly aggressive defensive action by Syria--especially a one-off--would not seem to qualify. While the Turkish pilot would certainly have been within his rights to use deadly force to protect himself, a retaliatory strike at this juncture by Turkey--much less its NATO allies--would be in violation of the UN Charter. Second, borrowing language from Article 51, Article 5 specifies the rationale for the use of force as "to restore and maintain the security of the North Atlantic area." Given that the incident is already contained--that is, not likely to be followed by any sort of follow-on action by Syria absent further provocation--said security already exists. Indeed, a NATO or Turkish response would make the area more, not less, secure.

A second misconception is that an attack under Article 5 will automatically be met by unified military action by all NATO states. Instead, a declaration by the NAC that Article 5 has been triggered is but a first step; decisions as to what response to take must follow. Not all attacks are equal. . . .

In the case of Syria, of course, the incident hardly comes out of the blue. Tensions have been escalating for well over a year, with a series of international condemnations and resolutions from the UN and many if not most NATO states. At the same time, the Security Council has, through the veto power of Russia and China, declined to act. And NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has repeatedly and vehemently declared from the outset that NATO has no intention of repeating its intervention in Libya with one in Syria.

Granting that I oppose Western intervention into Syria just as I did into Libya, it's difficult to see how yesterday's incident changes anything. Surely, the killing of some 20,000 Syrians, most innocent civilians, is a greater cause for action than the downing of a single fighter jet flying where it wasn't supposed to? And the facts on the ground haven't changed one iota: Bashar al-Assad still has a powerful, loyal military and the opposition is a fractured mess. So, NATO military action is no more appealing now than it was Friday morning.

Additionally, Assad has handled the aftermath of this incident deftly. He swiftly expressed remorse for the loss of life caused by the shooting down of Turkey's jet--almost surely the decision of a relative low level operator making a rapid decision under extreme stress rather than a considered policy judgment of the central government--and promptly not only gave Turkey permission to begin a recovery operation in Syrian space but joined in. While he's a vicious thug willing to do just about anything to stay in power, he's rather clearly not angling for war with NATO, much less Turkey.

It's inconceivable that NATO will decide to start yet another war under these circumstances.

James Joyner is managing editor of the Atlantic Council.


Cool down man, you must never go to war directly with Syria. AtaTurk wouldn't recommend it, he will not recommend. Let Syrians sort out their internal matters. Did Libya teach you?


Benefits in war with Syria long terms:
US
Israel
NATO


Israel bombs Hamas security targets in Gaza: Officials
 

thefreesyrian

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Turkey should have bombed this dirty AA site, with cruise missile and bombed some barracks and other key assets in the north.
Syrian people will more than welcome that
 

Martian2

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Does Syria have international law on its side?

Wait a second.

Under international law, isn't self-defense a justification to shoot down an intruding war plane?

In other words, doesn't Syria have international law on its side if the Turkish fighter plane was in Syrian airspace? It didn't help that the Turkish F-4 Phantom was flying low and fast, like a threatening attack jet on a bomb run.
 

Secur

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One Question , Why did Turkish Aircraft enter the Syrian Airspace in the first place ? ...

Weren't they aware what fate befalls intruders ? :azn: ...

On this occasion , I will side with Syria since they were merely safeguarding their sovereignty ...
 

VelocuR

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Does Syria have international law on its side?

Wait a second.

Under international law, isn't self-defense a justification to shoot down an intruding war plane?

In other words, doesn't Syria have international law on its side if the Turkish fighter plane was in Syrian airspace? It didn't help that the Turkish F-4 Phantom was flying low and fast, like a threatening attack jet on a bomb run.

In our observation, it is clearly Turkey should pay compensation to their own pilot for violating the international law by intruding inside Syria territory. Syria didn't do harm anything in self-defence by Phantom spy old plane.

Turkey must pay full compensation by this week or asap as they have to admit it.

Syria 'shoots down Turkish fighter jet' - Telegraph

 

thefreesyrian

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Its infortunate that turkey which have the military capacity to obliterate those 60s and 70s syrian regime militia equipment and doctrine, but cannot do a thing.
Its very frustratating, the bad thing is with this lucky shot, syrian regime appear agressive and turkey weak.
But in the end, the FSA will end this regime, there is too much opposition to this regime du to his ugly sectarian nature that he is bound to collapse
 

BLACKEAGLE

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Its infortunate that turkey which have the military capacity to obliterate those 60s and 70s syrian regime militia equipment and doctrine, but cannot do a thing.
Its very frustratating, the bad thing is with this lucky shot, syrian regime appear agressive and turkey weak.
But in the end, the FSA will end this regime, there is too much opposition to this regime du to his ugly sectarian nature that he is bound to collapse
He is going down with or without Turkey.
 

VelocuR

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I will almost start to support war just to make people like Raptor crazy.:P
:lol:

Lol, I appreciate you didn't support war. It will bring alot of headaches and turmoils. They try to push Turkey and Syria conflicts for their benefits.

Why not use ANKA spy plane instead phantom?
 

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