Terrorism

Turkey denounces Syrian downing of jet

PG
Tuesday, 26-June-2012

 

DAMASCUS: Turkey has told the UN Security Council that Syria's downing of one of its fighter jets poses a "serious threat to peace and security", as Damascus insisted the plane had violated its airspace.
 
The United States meanwhile denounced the UN's "colossal failure" to protect civilians inside Syria as the death toll there continued to mount.
 
And a Syrian general was among a new group of officers and soldiers to defect and join the growing rebel ranks in Turkey.
 
Turkey, in a letter to the United Nations Security Council and UN chief Ban Ki-moon, said Monday its plane had gone down in international airspace.
 
"The aircraft did not display any hostile attitude or maneuver and was flying with its identification systems open. The shooting came without any prior warning," said the letter.
 
Turkey's UN ambassador Ertugrul Apakan said the incident was "a serious threat to peace and security in the region, in the context of the Syrian crisis" but did not call for the world body to act against Damascus.
 
Syria continued to insist that its downing of the Turkish F-4 Phantom jet on Friday had been justified.
 
"The Turkish warplane violated Syrian airspace, and in turn Syrian air defences fired back and the plane crashed inside Syrian territorial waters," Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad al-Makdissi said Monday."What happened is a gross violation of Syrian sovereignty," he added.
 
The incident has reignited international concern over the Syria conflict.
 
European Union foreign ministers meeting in Luxembourg condemned the attack and announced new measures targeting Syrian government ministries and companies, including a bank and a television channel.
 
But a day ahead of a NATO meeting called at Turkey's request, the ministers also warned of the dangers of a military escalation in the crisis, and praised Turkey's "measured and responsible initial reaction".
 
NATO members Britain, France and the United States have all condemned Syria, with Britain saying Damascus should not be allowed to act with impunity.
 
German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said it was "important that all forces understand that de-escalation is now decisive."
 
Turkey called Tuesday's emergency NATO meeting by invoking Article Four of the alliance's founding treaty, which covers threats to members' security.
 
"The facts in our possession show that our plane was hit by a heat-seeking guided laser missile," Turkey's Vice Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said.
 
The jet had been "intentionally shot down... in international airspace," he added.
 
"To target an aircraft in this fashion without any warning is a hostile act of the highest order," he said, adding that Ankara could soon announce a cut in power supplies to Syria.Later Monday, Arinc accused Syria of having opened fire on a rescue plane searching for the jet's two pilots who are still missing.
 
"Everyone must know that this sort of behaviour will not go unpunished," he said.
AFP



    

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