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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
 Previous    
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.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs