Huffpost UK uk

Syria Admits Shooting Down Turkish Jet As Turkey's President Responds Cautiously

Posted: Updated:
Print Article
An army truck patrols the border in Kilis Turkey
An army truck patrols the border in Kilis Turkey

Turkish leaders have said they will take "necessary" action after Syria has confirmed it shot down a Turkish fighter jet, claiming the plane invaded their airspace.

The president of Turkey's comments were cautious, with Abdullah Gul admitting that the Turkish warplane may have crossed the Syrian border. However he added that it was routine for fighter jets to do so during high speed exercises.

Teams from both countries were working together in an effort to recover the two missing crew of the F-4 aircraft, which was shot down over the Mediterranean on Friday.

"These are not ill-intentioned things but happen beyond control due to the jets' speed," he told the nation's state news agency, Anatolia, following a two hour emergency meeting led by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Friday.

Gul played down tension between the two countries in the wake of the event, saying that naval authorities from the two countries were working together to search for the two crew members on board.

Syria said the plane crashed over the Mediterranean Sea, telling their state-run news service SANA that the situation had been dealt with "according to laws observed in such cases."

It said it had shot the plane down about 1 kilometre (0.62 mile), from its coastline, however it said it didn't realise it was a Turkish plane. In a statement, the Syrian military said that the F-4 Phantom crashed into the sea around 6 miles from the village of Om al-Tuyour in Syria.

Ilter Turan, a professor of political science at Istanbul's Bilgi University, told NTV that Syria's shooting of the jet was clearly hostile.

"They could have either sent their planes to confront it or force it to land, it is a hostile act by any standard," Turan said.

However foreign correspondents are predicting that both countries will try to avoid further conflict, analysis that seems to be supported by Gul's cautious comments on Saturday.

Tension between the neighbouring countries has been escalating since the uprising against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad, with Turkey joining other Nato members in condemning attacks made by brutal regime-led forces. More than 30,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey since violence broke out in Syria more than 16 months ago.

In April Syrian security forces killed two civilians who had fled to Turkey. Following the cross border shooting, Turkey said it would not tolerate any actions that were judged to violate its security.