Turkey's Gul says downing of jet cannot be ignored

ANKARA Sat Jun 23, 2012 6:03am EDT

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ANKARA (Reuters) - Turkish President Abdullah Gul said on Saturday it was not possible to ignore the fact that Syria had shot down a Turkish fighter jet and said everything that needed to be done following the incident would be done, Turkish media reported.

"It is not possible to cover over a thing like this, whatever is necessary will no doubt be done," Gul told reporters from the central Anatolian city of Kayseri.

The Turkish military said it had lost contact with one of its F-4 fighter jets off the southern Turkish coast near Syria on Friday morning and Damascus later acknowledged it had shot the plane down.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, who had been returning from a summit in Brazil when the news broke, called an emergency security meeting on his arrival in Ankara and in a statement his office said Ankara would act "decisively" once all the details had emerged.

Syria has said the Turkish aircraft was flying low and well inside Syrian territorial waters when it was shot down. Gul said it was normal for jets to briefly cross into foreign airspace and said a probe into the incident would look at whether in fact it was downed while in Turkish airspace.

"When we think of the speed of these jet planes while flying above the sea, crossing over borders for a short distance and then back again is a little bit routine," said Gul.

He said because of the serious nature of the incident it was not possible at this stage to give any more detailed statement.

Asked whether Turkey was in contact with Syria over the incident, Gul said telephone contact had been made and said: "Because there is no security there, we withdrew our representatives from Syria. This does not mean there is no contact."

Gul said Turkish and Syrian forces were still working together to search for the two missing crew of the aircraft.

Ankara, which had drawn close to Syria before the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, turned against the Syrian leader when he responded violently to pro-democracy protests inspired by popular upheavals elsewhere in the Arab world.

Turkey now gives refuge to the rebel Free Syrian Army on its frontier with Syria and is sheltering more than 30,000 Syrian refugees.

Ankara has previously floated the possibility of setting up some kind of safe haven or humanitarian corridor inside Syria, which would entail military intervention, but has said it would undertake no such action without U.N. Security Council approval.

Turkey has said, however, that Assad must step down.

(Editing by Alison Williams)

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Comments (8)
kafantaris wrote:
Turkey would be wise to exercise restrain to Syria’s shooting down its wondering plane.  Nothing Turkey does now will help the situation at hand — either for the Syrian  people or the international community. 
Retaliation has its place, and Turkey will have plenty of opportunity to assert itself. Now is not the time.   

Jun 23, 2012 5:27am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Now is the time!
Assad is slaughtering civlians town after town!
Turkey is just full of Syrian refugees with no end in site!
Turkey has the backing of 28 Nato Nations, so they can not be
defeated Russia or no Russia!
Turkey could take out Syria in a matter of days!

Jun 23, 2012 7:49pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
mulholland wrote:
Gul could ignore the first plane and send another plane into Syrian air space. Low and slow. One more time.

Jun 23, 2012 8:39pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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