News / Europe

NATO Condemns Syria for Downing Turkish Jet

Selah HennessyDorian Jones
NATO member states have condemned Syria for shooting down a Turkish military jet last Friday.

"We consider this act to be unacceptable and condemn it in the strongest terms," said NATO chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

He spoke Tuesday at a news conference in Brussels after a meeting of the ambassadors from NATO’s 28 member states. Rasmussen said NATO stands in solidarity with Turkey.

"It is another example of the Syrian authorities disregard for international norms, peace and security and human life," he said.

Turkish officials say the military jet was an unarmed plane on a training mission and was flying above international waters when it was shot down. Damascus says it acted in self-defense after the plane entered Syrian airspace.

The plane crashed into the eastern Mediterranean and its two pilots are still missing.

Tuesday’s meeting came under Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty. That article says any country may consult fellow member-states if it considers its territorial integrity, political independence, or security to be under threat.

Rasmussen said NATO had not discussed Article 5 of the group’s founding treaty. Article 5 enables the use of force should a member come under attack.

Hopes for restraint

An international security expert at Britain’s University of Nottingham, Wyn Rees, said NATO is keen to demonstrate its support for Turkey.

"It's a very important state within the alliance. So the fact that it has now suffered this loss of an aircraft, it's important for the other NATO members to show solidarity " he said.

Rees said NATO also hopes to restrain Turkey from escalating the situation.

"The NATO members are not looking for a pretext on which to intervene and therefore they do not want one of their members to drag them into such an action."

Rees says he thinks this situation will be dealt with diplomatically. But he says by shooting down Turkey’s plane, Syria has raised new questions about its internal situation.

"For a country to kind of engage in such an act -- such a hostile act -- seems rather stupid frankly. And one wonders just how much control the Assad regime has over parts of the military now. It kind of raises that deeper question, is the military fully under the command of the civilian government?"

Warning from Turkey

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan launched a stinging attack on Syria's rulers Tuesday, warning them of the "wrath of Turkey." Speaking in parliament, he declared Syria to be "a clear and present danger."  The prime minister also announced new rules of engagement for the Turkish army.

"Any military element from Syria moving too close to the Turkish border that is deemed a security risk will be seen as a threat and will be a military target," Erdogan said. "I am warning Syria it shouldn't make any mistake and test Turkey."

Analysts warn of the potential for confrontation as Syrian forces increasingly move closer to the Turkish border to curtail the smuggling of arms to the Free Syrian Army rebels.

Until now, the Turkish army has been under strict rules to avoid confrontation with Syrian forces.

During his address, the prime minister emphasized he is not looking for war.

"Turkey knows what it will do very well. We won't fall into the trap of war provocateurs," Erdogan said. "But we are not a country to sit by after the downing of our plane. We will keep our determination."

The Turkish leader said Turkey will give full support until the Syrian people "are relieved of this dictator," referring to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

Danger for monitors

The U.N. Security Council received a closed briefing Tuesday from U.N. peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous. Diplomats say he told the council that the situation in Syria is too dangerous for U.N. monitors to resume their work there.

They say he added that the Syrian government also refuses to allow observers to use satellite telephones, which he called "key tools" to the operation.

The head of the U.N. observer mission in Syria, Major General Robert Mood, suspended operations on June 16 due to safety risks to the 300 observers. The U.N. has said attackers have targeted the observer team several times in recent weeks with gunfire and bombs.

Violence near Damascus

Rights activists reported heavy fighting in Syria between rebels and government forces in several areas Tuesday.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the army used artillery during clashes with rebels in Damascus suburbs that house families of army officers.

The Observatory also reported violence in the cities of Daraa, Homs, Aleppo, and Deir Ezzor, as well as in Hama and Idlib provinces.

The head of the Observatory, Rami Abdelrahman, said the Tuesday clashes and shelling killed 38 people, including 21 government troops, two defectors and 15 civilians and rebels.

Hennessy reported from London. Jones reported from Istanbul. Carla Babb in Washington contributed to this report.

You May Like

Video Americans, Tourists, Reflect on Meaning of Thanksgiving

VOA garnered opinions from several people soon after November 13 Paris attacks, which colored many of their thoughts

Video Thais Send Security Concerns Down the River

In northern Thailand, the annual tradition of constructing floating baskets to carry away the year’s bad spirits highlights the Loy Krathong festival

Video Tree Houses - A Branch of American Dream

Workshops aimed at teaching people how to build tree houses have become widely popular in America in recent years

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Anonymous
June 26, 2012 2:47 PM
Who should be condenmed?

NATO is full of shit.
In Response

by: Anonymous
June 26, 2012 3:24 PM
If there weren't organizations like NATO, you would probably get killed for saying things like that by Totalitarian style governments...

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continuesi
Ayesha Tanzeem
November 25, 2015 10:46 PM
One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Belgium-Germany Border Remains Porous, Even As Manhunt For Paris Attacker Continues

One of the suspected gunmen in the Nov. 13 Paris attacks, Salah Abdeslam, evaded law enforcement, made his way to Belgium, and is now believed to have fled to Germany. VOA correspondent Ayesha Tanzeem makes the journey across the border from Belgium into Germany to see how porous the borders really are.

Video Islamic State Unfazed by Losses in Iraq, Syria

Progress in the U.S.-led effort to beat Islamic State on its home turf in Iraq and Syria has led some to speculate the terror group may be growing desperate. But counterterror officials say that is not the case, and warn the recent spate of terror attacks is merely part of the group’s evolution. VOA National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more.

Video Taiwan Looks for Role in South China Sea Dispute

The Taiwanese government is one of several that claims territory in the hotly contested South China Sea, but Taipei has long been sidelined in the dispute, overshadowed by China. Now, as the Philippines challenges Beijing’s claims in an international court at The Hague, Taipei is looking to publicly assert its claims. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.

Video Syrian Refugees in US Express Concern for Those Left Behind

Syrian immigrants in the United States are concerned about the negative tide of public opinion and the politicians who want to block a U.S. plan to accept 10,000 Syrian refugees. Zlatica Hoke reports many Americans are fighting to dispel suspicions linking refugees to terrorists.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs