News / Middle East

    Turkey Mourns 2 Pilots Downed by Syria

    Turkish soldiers carry the coffins of fallen Turkish pilots, Captain Gokhan Ertan and Lieutenant Hasan Huseyin Aksoy, during an official farewell ceremony at the 7th Jet Main Air Base in the eastern Turkish city of Malatya July 6, 2012.
    Turkish soldiers carry the coffins of fallen Turkish pilots, Captain Gokhan Ertan and Lieutenant Hasan Huseyin Aksoy, during an official farewell ceremony at the 7th Jet Main Air Base in the eastern Turkish city of Malatya July 6, 2012.
    Dorian Jones
    ISTANBUL, Turkey -- The two Turkish pilots of the warplane that was shot down last month by Syrian forces were buried Friday with full military honors and Turkey's political leaders present.

    The coffins of the two pilots were draped in Turkish flags and carried by soldiers in a funeral ceremony with full military honors.

    The ceremony  was held at the Erhac airbase in eastern Turkey, where the pilots' warplane left on its ill fated operation.

    The bodies were recovered from  the bottom of the Mediterranean with the assistance of a U.S. search vessel.

    Attending the funeral were Turkey's political and military leadership led by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

    Addressing the ceremony, Turkish air force General Mustafa Avci reiterated the country's anger over the circumstances of the shooting down of the plane.

    He said the two pilots were killed in international waters of the Mediterranean while performing an unarmed mission. And that the two pilots were heroes and offered his condolences to the families.

    • From left to right, Republican People's Party Leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu, Chief of Staff General Necdet Ozel, Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan and Chairman of Parliament Cemil Cicek pray at the farewell ceremony, Malatya, Turkey, July 6, 2012.
    • Turkish soldiers carry the coffins of fallen Turkish pilots, Captain Gokhan Ertan and Lieutenant Hasan Huseyin Aksoy, Malatya, Turkey, July 6, 2012.
    • Nihal Ertan, wife of fallen pilot Captain Gokhan Ertan, kisses the coffin of her husband during an official farewell ceremony at the 7th Jet Main Air Base, Malatya, Turkey, July 6, 2012.
    • This photo taken July 4, 2012 and provided by the Turkish military shows the helmet of one of the Turkish pilots of a jet shot down by Syrian forces on June 22, 2012.
    • This photo taken July 4, 2012 and provided by the Turkish military, shows wreckage retrieved from the sea after a Turkish RF-4 Phantom jet which was shot down by Syrian forces June 22, 2012.
    • The wheel of the jet shot down by Syrian forces on June 22, 2012 resting on the seabed. (AP/Turkish military)

    Damascus says the jet was shot down close to its coast over its territorial waters. Both sides dispute how the plane was downed with Ankara claiming it was hit by a missile while Damascus insists it was anti-aircraft fire.

    With the wreckage of the plane now found, analysts say many questions about the shooting may now be answered. In an interview published Monday in a Turkish newspaper, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said he regretted the incident, but did not apologize.

    The downing of the plane has seen a heightening of tensions between the two neighbors. Mr. Erdogan has accused Syria of a presenting a clear and present danger and has increased the numbers of military forces on the 900 kilometer Syrian border.  Ankara is also providing sanctuary to over 30,000 Syrian refugees, including the leadership and members of the Free Syrian Army which is fighting  Assad's forces.

    On Thursday Brigadier General Manaf Tlass of Syria's elite Republican guard reportedly fled to Turkey. Despite the deaths of the two pilots, opinion polls found the overwhelming majority of Turks oppose any military confrontation with Syria.

    You May Like

    Taj Mahal Battles New Threat from Insects

    Swarms of insects are proliferating in the heavily contaminated waters of the Yamuna River, which flows behind the 17th century monument

    Self-doubt, Cultural Barriers Hinder Cambodian Women in Tech

    Longtime Cambodian tech observer Sok Sikieng says that although more women have joined profession in recent years, there remain significant factors hindering women from reaching tech potential

    Trans-Adriatic Pipeline to Boost European Energy Security

    $4.5 billion-pipeline will become operational in 2020 and will deliver gas from Azerbaijan’s Shah Deniz II field to southern Italy

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnami
    X
    Elizabeth Lee
    May 22, 2016 6:04 AM
    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese-American Youth Optimistic About Obama's Visit to Vietnam

    U.S. President Barack Obama's visit to Vietnam later this month comes at a time when Vietnam is seeking stronger ties with the United States. Many Vietnamese Americans, especially the younger generation, are optimistic Obama’s trip will help further reconciliation between the two former foes. Elizabeth Lee has more from the community called "Little Saigon" located south of Los Angeles.
    Video

    Video First-generation, Afghan-American Student Sets Sights on Basketball Glory

    Their parents are immigrants to the United States. They are kids who live between two worlds -- their parents' homeland and the U.S. For many of them, they feel most "American" at school. It can be tricky balancing both worlds. In this report, produced by Beth Mendelson, Arash Arabasadi tells us about one Afghan-American student who seems to be coping -- one shot at a time.
    Video

    Video Newest US Citizens, Writing the Next Great Chapter

    While universities across the United States honor their newest graduates this Friday, many immigrants in downtown Manhattan are celebrating, too. One hundred of them, representing 31 countries across four continents, graduated as U.S. citizens, joining the ranks of 680,000 others every year in New York and cities around the country.
    Video

    Video Vietnam Sees Strong Economic Growth Despite Incomplete Reforms

    Vietnam has transformed its communist economy to become one of the world's fastest-growing nations. While the reforms are incomplete, multinational corporations see a profitable future in Vietnam and have made major investments -- as VOA's Jim Randle reports.
    Video

    Video Qatar Denies World Cup Corruption

    The head of Qatar’s organizing committee for the 2022 World Cup insists his country's bid to host the soccer tournament was completely clean, despite the corruption scandals that have rocked the sport’s governing body, FIFA. Hassan Al-Thawadi also said new laws would offer protection to migrants working on World Cup construction projects. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Infrastructure Funding Puts Cambodia on Front Line of International Politics

    When leaders of the world’s seven most developed economies meet in Japan next week, demands for infrastructure investment world wide will be high on the agenda. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s push for “quality infrastructure investment” throughout Asia has been widely viewed as a counter to the rise of Chinese investment flooding into region.
    Video

    Video Democrats Fear Party Unity a Casualty in Clinton-Sanders Battle

    Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton claimed a narrow victory in Tuesday's Kentucky primary even as rival Bernie Sanders won in Oregon. Tensions between the two campaigns are rising, prompting fears that the party will have a difficult time unifying to face the presumptive Republican nominee, Donald Trump. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Portrait of a Transgender Marriage: Husband and Wife Navigate New Roles

    As controversy continues in North Carolina over the use of public bathrooms by transgender individuals, personal struggles with gender identity that were once secret are now coming to light. VOA’s Tina Trinh explored the ramifications for one couple as part of trans.formation, a series of stories on transgender issues.
    Video

    Video Amerikan Hero Flips Stereotype of Middle Eastern Character

    An Iranian American comedian is hoping to connect with American audiences through a film that inverts some of Hollywood's stereotypes about Middle Eastern characters. Sama Dizayee reports.
    Video

    Video Budding Young Inventors Tackle City's Problems with 3-D Printing

    Every city has problems, and local officials and politicians are often frustrated by their inability to solve them. But surprising solutions can come from unexpected places. Students in Baltimore. Maryland, took up the challenge to solve problems they identified in their city, and came up with projects and products to make a difference. VOA's June Soh has more on a digital fabrication competition primarily focused on 3-D design and printing. Carol Pearson narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora