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Syria insists jet violated airspace

25 June 2012, 17:00

Damascus - Syrian foreign ministry spokesperson Jihad al-Makdissi on Monday insisted that a Turkish F-4 Phantom jet its forces shot down on Friday had "violated Syrian sovereignty".

"The Turkish warplane violated Syrian airspace, and in turn Syrian air defences fired back and the plane crashed inside Syrian territorial waters," he told a news conference that he said would "refute the lies" of Turkish officials.

"What happened is a gross violation of Syrian sovereignty," Makdissi said, adding that "Turkey itself has already attested that the plane violated Syrian airspace".

Nato is to hold an emergency meeting in Brussels on Tuesday at the request of member nation Turkey.

"If the goal of the meeting is to calm the situation and promote stability, we wish it success," Makdissi said.

But "if the goal of the meeting is aggression, we say that Syrian airspace, territory and waters are sacred for the Syrian army, just as Turkish airspace, territory and waters are sacred for the Turkish army."

Strained relations

He said that search and rescue operations and co-operation between Turkey and Syria were ongoing.

"Unfortunately, we didn't find the pilots but we did find the wreckage of the fighter jet," he said.

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu earlier warned Ankara's southern neighbour not to challenge his country's military.

Davutoglu told Turkey's TRT television that, "according to our conclusions, our plane was shot down in international airspace, 13 nautical miles from Syria".

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

Turkish-Syrian relations were already strained by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's outspoken condemnation of the Syrian regime's bloody crackdown, which rights activists say has killed more than 15,000 people since March 2011.



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