Turkey calls in NATO over Syrian downing of jet | News | DW | 24.06.2012
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Turkey calls in NATO over Syrian downing of jet

NATO says Turkey has called for alliance talks on Tuesday over Syria's shooting down of a Turkish F4 Phantom jet over the Mediterranean. Turkish media say the wreckage has been located.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu on Sunday dismissed Syria's initial claim that it had not known the plane belonged to Turkey, saying the F4 was shot down inside international airspace while on an unarmed training flight to check radar systems.

"The Syrians knew full well that it was a Turkish military plane and the nature of its mission. Nobody should dare put Turkey's capabilities to the test," Davutoglu said.

He said the jet had briefly crossed into Syrian airspace 15 minutes before it was shot down, but that Syria had not warned the Turks.

Syria on Friday had said its air defenses downed an unidentified object, which had flown just one kilometer (0.6 miles) off Syria's coastline near Latakia. The Syrian foreign ministry said the shooting was "no hostile act against Turkey."

Close-up of Davutoglu during a news conference

Davutoglu doubts Syria's account of F4 downing

Ankara has reportedly sent an official diplomatic note to Damascus, but has not provided details of its content.

The plane's wreckage was found on Sunday in Mediterranean waters 1,000 meters (3,200 feet) deep, according to Turkish media.

The NATO consultation sought by Turkey invokes Article Four of the alliance's rules, allowing members to consult whenever the "political independence and security of any of the parties is threatened."

Turkey, a NATO member and onetime ally of Syria, has increasingly condemned the crackdown by President Bashar al-Assad's forces while allowing 32,000 Syrian refugees as well as Free Syrian Army rebels to take shelter inside Turkey.

Conciliatory Iranian rhetoric

Earlier on Sunday, Iran had urged Turkey and Syria to show restraint and tolerance over the incident. Iranian Foreign Minister Ali Akbar Salehi had telephoned Davutoglu to urge "both sides to show calm and restraint."

The plea contrasts with harsh Iranian rhetoric recently toward Israel and Western sanctions over Iran's controversial nuclear program.

Iranhas backed Assad and his regime during 15 months of anti-government protest which the UN says has cost 15,000 lives.

Scores more killed within Syria

Violence continued across Syria on Sunday, with the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights saying at least 34 people had been killed in clashes at dawn between government forces and rebels.

A United Nation's spokesman said UN chief Ban Ki-moon had warned of regional implications of the F4 downing and had urged Syria and Turkey to address the situation diplomatically.

Meanwhile, the cargo ship Alaed, which had tried to deliver three repaired Soviet-era Mi-25 helicopters back to Syria from Russia, a key arms supplier to Damascus, has docked in the Russian port of Murmansk after its voyage became public.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the intended Russian delivery had not violated any rules.

ipj/ncy (AFP, dpa, AP, Reuters)

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