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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Magical Photo Slides Show Native Americans in Late 1800s

Walter McClintock spent 20 years photographing the Blackfoot Indians and their vanishing culture at the dawn of the modern age More

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.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs