Syria defiant on jet incident as EU steps up sanctions | News | DW | 25.06.2012
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Syria defiant on jet incident as EU steps up sanctions

Syria's Bashar Assad has defended the shooting down of a Turkish jet last Friday. It comes after EU foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg on Monday announced further sanctions on Syria.

The Syrian government said its army had to react immediately to a Turkish jet flying into Syrian airspace last Friday, as it was "a clear breach of Syrian sovereignty," according to a statement by the foreign ministry.

The ministry also warned NATO - ahead of its emergency meeting on the incident on Tuesday - that its territory was "sacred" and that it hoped the meeting would aim to "calm the situation" not exacerbate it.

Tougher sanctions

Meanwhile, the European Union imposed furter sanctions on Syria. The measures include asset freezes and travel bans for six entities, one of which is a member of Assad's regime. The 16th round of EU sanctions will also see six companies and institutions put on the bloc's black list.

Monday's meeting also served to clarify an existing arms embargo against Syria.

epa03280571 French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius (L) kisses European High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Catherine Ashton upon arrival at the EU Foreign Affairs Council at the European Council headquarters in Luxembourg, Belgium, 25 June 2012. The leaders of the eurozone's four largest economies said last week they agree that measures to boost economic growth in the area should be a priority in order to solve the current debt crisis. EPA/THIERRY ROGE

Hugs in Luxembourg despite crisis - EU's Ashton and France's Fabius

Foreign ministers of the 27-nation EU, meeting in Luxembourg, also condemned the downing of a Turkish jet by the Syrian military. "It's a completely uncalled for reaction, this shooting down of the jet, without warning," German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said.

"The Turkish government's reaction was very reasonable," he added, urging "all those involved to stick to being reasonable about this."

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius said the downing was "completely unacceptable."

"This plane was without weapons, on a routine flight, and was shot down - according to what is known - without any prior warning," Fabius said.

Iran also on EU agenda

Iran's alleged nuclear ambitions will be on the ministers' agenda as well, with British Foreign Minister William Hague telling reporters that " "we will intensify the sanctions over the coming months if there is no progress."

It comes just days before a ban on Iranian oil imports to the EU is set to come into effect and after talks in Moscow between Iran and world powers failed to reach a breakthrough.

Reports of defections

Meanwhile, Turkey's Anatolia news agency reports that another general has fled to Turkey from Syria, bringing up to 13 the number of generals who have defected since the uprising against Assad started 16 months ago.

ng/ipj (dapd, dpa, AFP, Reuters)