News / Europe

    Turkey Toughens Response to Syria's Downing of Military Jet

    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, arrives for a cabinet meeting in his office in Ankara, Turkey, June 25, 2012.
    Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, right, arrives for a cabinet meeting in his office in Ankara, Turkey, June 25, 2012.
    Turkey has toughened its response to Syria's downing of a Turkish military jet last week, saying it will ask fellow NATO members to consider the incident a Syrian attack on the whole alliance.

    NATO envoys are due to meet Tuesday at Turkey's request, to discuss a reaction to the attack on the Turkish reconnaissance aircraft near the Syrian-Turkish maritime border. Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc Monday said Ankara called the meeting under Article 5 of the NATO treaty, which states that an attack on one alliance member shall be considered an attack against all members.

    NATO previously said Turkey requested the meeting by invoking Article 4 of the treaty that allows one member to hold consultations with others if it feels its security has been threatened.

    Speaking after a Turkish Cabinet meeting, Arinc said Ankara has the right to retaliate under international law for what he called Syria's "hostile" act against the unarmed military jet. He accused Syrian forces of deliberately shooting down the aircraft in international airspace over the Mediterranean. But Arinc also said Turkey does not want to go to war over the incident, which left two Turkish pilots missing.

    Syria disputes the Turkish accusation.

    Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said Monday a Syrian anti-aircraft machine gun fired on the Turkish jet in self-defense as it was flying low along the Syrian coast in violation of his country's sovereignty. He said the machine gun has a maximum range of 2.5 kilometers.

    Turkey has said its plane inadvertently entered Syrian airspace for a brief period before leaving and then being struck by Syrian fire.

    Makdissi said Syria remains committed to neighborly relations with Turkey. But he also warned Ankara and other NATO members against considering hostile action against Syria, saying they should be mindful that Syrian land, territorial waters and airspace are "sacred."

    In his remarks to reporters, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Arinc said Syrian forces fired at a second Turkish military plane that was searching for the downed reconnaissance jet. He did not say if the search aircraft was hit. Arinc said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan will give more details of Turkey's response to the Syrian actions on Tuesday in remarks to lawmakers in parliament.

    U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Washington looks forward to Tuesday's NATO meeting "to hear [Ankara's] views of this incident and to hear what they want to do moving forward." She also described Syria's attack on the reconnaissance jet as unprovoked.

    "There was no warning to this aircraft. It was just shot out of the sky," said Nuland. "And that obviously is not in keeping with international norms in such incidents."

    EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton said Monday she expressed concern about Syria's downing of the jet in a conversation with the Turkish foreign minister.

    "We are very concerned about what has happened and very concerned for the family of the two pilots who are missing," said Ashton. "And we will be obviously looking to Turkey to be restrained in its response."

    British Foreign Secretary William Hague downplayed the prospect of the aircraft incident triggering foreign military intervention in Syria.

    "I do not think it illustrates a different phase of the Syrian crisis," said Hague. "I think we continue to be in a great danger of a collapse in Syria or of intensifying conflict."

    In other developments, EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg approved new sanctions on Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government, adding one Syrian official and six companies and entities to an EU sanctions list. The sanctions are aimed at pressuring Mr. Assad to stop his deadly crackdown on a 15-month uprising against his 11-year rule.

    Turkish media and officials Monday said a Syrian general and other senior military officers defected to the opposition by crossing into Turkey overnight with their families. The mass defection raised the number of Syrian generals who have sought refuge in Turkey to 13.

    Turkey has provided sanctuary to Syrian military defectors and thousands of Syrian refugees since last year, when it turned against President Assad in protest at his suppression of the revolt.

    Activists posted a video on the Internet showing what they said was Syrian government shelling of rebellious communities in the central province of Homs Monday.

    Separately, U.N. and diplomatic sources told Reuters news agency that a top U.N. human rights official was in Syria Monday for talks with the government on opening an investigation into massacres and other atrocities in the country. If confirmed, it would be the first time Brazilian expert Paulo Pinheiro has been granted permission to enter Syria since the U.N. Human Rights Council set up his team in September.

    Scott Stearns in Washington contributed to this report.

    Michael Lipin

    Michael covers international news for VOA on the web, radio and TV, specializing in the Middle East and East Asia Pacific. Follow him on Twitter @Michael_Lipin

    You May Like

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Nonamed
    June 27, 2012 4:49 AM
    Turkey's jet was shot in international air zone.It accidentally had gone in Syrian air zone for ten minutes. Because of this, In this situation Turkey is right

    by: Anonymous
    June 26, 2012 1:30 PM
    Turkey is already absorbing a terrible burden of refugees caused by the Syrian government. I would hope Turkey passes on a bill to the Syrian dictator for all expenses incurred. I'd also love to see Nato or the UN put in a perimeter near the border, a safe zone. This way people could easily leave including Syrian Army personel. Syrian Army personel have a hard time defecting. If they could easily do so, they would be defecting by the thousands. I'd like to see even Russia put in a perimeter and help the people of Syria, if Russia doesn't help the people, the people will most definately oust the Russian navy from the port(s) in Syria. It's time Russia tries to win the hearts and minds of the Syrian people, otherwise Russia will get a kick in the teeth once the dust settles.

    by: Wolves and a little goat
    June 26, 2012 11:22 AM
    So the little goat hit the knife of the "wolf" down, then the "wolf" and other real wolves and lion started to howl: my god, how can a little goat attack a wolf? Ok, now, it's a good excuse for us to start....

    by: Wolves and a little goat
    June 26, 2012 11:11 AM
    These lion and wolves always do military practices around the little goat's home and often bully and threatern the little goat. This little goat is facing huge danger because these wolves and the lion can attack and swallow him any time. This little goat is very scary and nervous....

    by: Wim Roffel from: Netherlands
    June 26, 2012 8:05 AM
    It is not hard to imagine what most likely happened. Here you have a bunch of Syrian soldiers who are almost daily shot at by rebels who they know to be helped by Turkey. They hear almost daily Turks and other foreigners debate about invading Syria. And then one day a Turkish plane comes right at them...

    by: Huang Jun from: China
    June 26, 2012 12:08 AM
    Why Turkey airfighter flied over Syrian border while Syria was in the sate of war? Obviously Turkey's F4 is spying and gathering intelligence information for the rebels. Why it flied at such a low altitude and high speed? Surely it was taking photos of Syrian forces on the ground. So it was Turkey who is carrying out hostile activities against Syria and Syria only tried to defend its territory. How could Syrian troops realize that it was a Turkey plane if it flied so fast and at such a low altitude.
    In Response

    by: Opliogolou from: Athens
    June 26, 2012 11:41 AM
    Huang, you are right all the way about Turkey... Turkey has a reputation in their surrounding neighborhood... they are treacherous, malevolent liars... look what they have done to Greece... to Israel... to Kurds... to USA...

    by: Anonymous from: America
    June 25, 2012 8:02 PM
    Turkey needs not go to war over this situation. What Turkey needs to do in order not to appear weak in the face of this challenge and other hostile forces to Turkish dignity is to demand a total “no fly” zone over all of Syria. Turkey must let all of Syria’s neighbors know that any aircraft that attempts to enter Syrian airspace will be intercepted by the Turkish air force and compelled to land in Turkey. All intercepted aircraft will be held by the Turkish government until Bashar Assad goes personally to NATO headquarters to give a complete explanation of the downing of this Turkish aircraft. This includes having Bashar Assad giving up his diplomatic immunity while at NATO headquarters.
    In Response

    by: Cyprus from: Cyprus
    June 26, 2012 11:48 AM
    Anonymous, anything turkey does will be a proof positive of its weakness and desperation... Syria's Assad is not Israel with their BS intellectual niceties... Assad will blow the Turks to hell

    by: CanadaKen from: PEI,Canada
    June 25, 2012 5:39 PM
    Syrian murderer, Assad, is bringing his regime closer to the end. Turkey is not a country to screw around with. I'm very pleased with how well they're handling all this.

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.