Saturday, June 23, 2012

Turkey says it 'will take steps' after downing of fighter plane by Syria

The downing of a Turkish F4 fighter jet is likely to further escalate tensions between Turkey and Syria. Turkey said its air force jet that disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea on Friday was shot down by Syria, in an action likely to worsen already strained relations between the two countries.Turkey's military provided no details on the plane's mission, but some Turkish TV reports said it was on a reconnaissance flight.
A statement following a two-hour security meeting led by Turkish Prime Minister Erdoğan said the warplane that went missing near Syria was downed by Syrian forces and that the two Turkish pilots remain missing. It said Turkey "will determinedly take necessary steps" in response, but it did not further specify.
After a cross-border shooting by Syrian forces earlier this year Turkey said it would not tolerate any action that it deemed violating its security.
 Erdoğan said the plane went down in the Mediterranean Sea about 8 miles (13 kilometers) away from the Syrian town of Latakiya. Four Turkish gunboats and three helicopters were searching for the pilots and wreckage of the plane.
Earlier Friday in Lebanon, Hezbollah's Manar TV reported that Syrian forces shot down the Turkish plane, citing unidentified Syrian security sources. Hezbollah is closely allied with Syria.
The relations between the two countries are strained since Turkey joined other nations in calling for President Bashar Assad to step down and because Turkey  has set up refugee camps on its border for more than 32,000 Syrians.

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