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Turkey Says Syria Shot At Two Of Its Planes: Crisis Escalates

Turkey Says Syria Shot At Two Of Its Planes: Crisis Escalates

Before the 16-month uprising began, Syria and Turkey were close allies and the families of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan even vacationed together. The two countries held joint military exercises and joint cabinet meetings — recent developments show how very much things have changed.

High-ranking Syrian Army Officers Defect

Over the weekend, Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency said that 33 Syrian soldiers, including a general and two colonels and their families, crossed the border into Turkey as part of a group with 224 people. However, Turkish government officials said that no general had defected and that the number of Syrians defecting was unknown.

While thousands of soldiers have defected, most have been so far been low-level conscripts, notes the Guardian.

The defectors have been placed in a refugee camp in Hatay, a province bordering Syria, and join the over 33,000 refugees who have fled the country after months of unrest that began in March of 2011.

Turkey Calls For NATO Meeting After Syria Shoots Down Turkish Warplane

Last Friday, Syria shot down a Turkish aircraft off the Mediterranean coast that, Syria said, had flown in its airspace. Turkey, which says that the plane had briefly strayed into Syrian airspace but was shot down in international waters,  has requested a Nato meeting on Tuesday to discuss the incident.

A spokesman for Syria’s foreign minister, Jihad Makdissi, offered justification for the shooting on Monday, saying that “We had to react immediately. Even if the plane was Syrian we would have shot it down.” In reference to tomorrow’s NATO meeting, Makdissi said that “if the goal of that meeting is aggression, we say that Syrian airspace, territory and waters are sacred.”

The European Union has responded by affirming its condemnation of the violence in Syria and calling for even harsher sanctions that will target “banking, military and state media entities,” said Foreign Secretary William Hague of Britain. European foreign ministers also condemned Syria’s shooting down the Turkish plane as “unacceptable,” praised Turkey for its “measured and responsible initial reaction” and demanded that Syria “allow full access for an immediate investigation.”

Turkish foreign minister, Ahmet Davutoglu, said that he had also discussed the matter with officials from Syria’s allies, Russia and China, and that they had praised Turkey’s “calm approach.” On Sunday, via a Twitter message on his official account, Davutoglu said that Turkey, a NATO member, would invoke Article 4 of the NATO treaty, which provides for “consultations by the allies when one of them is attacked or threatened.” As the New York Times observes, he “did not cite the much stronger Article 5, in which an attack on one member is considered an attack on all NATO countries and obliges a concerted response.”

Just today on Monday, Turkey says that Syria shot at a second one of its planes. The second plane, a CASA search and rescue plane, was part of a rescue operation for the F-4 Phantom jet that was shot down, and was not itself brought down. According to the BBC, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc did not specify when the second plane was shot at; Syrians had stopped firing at it after a warning from Turkey. He also said that, in the next few days, Turkey would consider cutting off electricity exports to Syria, something it had not yet done for “humanitarian reasons” and that Turkey has “no intention of going to war with anyone.”

Previous Care2 Coverage

US and UK May Offer Syria’s Assad “Safe Passage”

Obama Unable To Persuade Putin About Syria

UN Observers Suspend Syria Mission, To No One’s Surprise

 

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21 comments

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5:02AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

In case anyone's interested in the view from inside Turkey, most people here seem to fall into three groups.
1. "Erdoğan is being reasonable, pursuing a middle course between passivity and war-mongering."
2. "Erdoğan is a wimp. We should bomb those bastards right away."
3. "The whole thing is an American plot to draw Turkey into supporting imperialist interests."

2:57AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

John M.: "Why is there a a U.S. jet in the above picture? This helps,make the article misleading. Or is it easier to find pictures of U.S.jets?"

Cristina Chew has a knack for writing MISLEADING articles, citing news sources proven to be LIES, and using photos with her articles that are misleading or completely wrong. I had hoped that she would have actually did some real research by now and discovered the truth of what is really going on in Syria ... but Cristina is sticking to her lies ... guess she's waiting for the WMDs to pop up in Syria ...

2:40AM PDT on Jul 1, 2012

Ed G.: "I suppose it would be different if they were in a state of war but I have not heard that they were."

Syria IS being invaded by terrorist groups who are supplied weapons and money by the U.S., Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Turkey, AND they are entering Syria through the Turkish border! Syria has EVERY RIGHT to defend itself from attacks, invasions, and foreign fighter jets!!! What part of this do you not understand??

What would happen if a foreign fighter jet invaded U.S. airspace, let alone if we were invaded by terrorist groups armed and sent to the U.S. by a group of foreign countries?

11:48PM PDT on Jun 30, 2012

@Martin L. The fact that the Turkish government is fighting a terrorist organisation does not make it terrorist. You can argue as much as you like about how well or badly it has handled it, but even the most repressive actions don't qualify as terrorism (unless, for example, your definition of terrorism is broad enough to encompass Gunatanamo Bay).

As for the Armenians, that was the Ottoman Empire (mainly Kurds in the Ottoman Empire, incidentally) not the Turkish Republic. Calling the current government "terrorist" because of what the Ottomans did to the Armenians makes as much sense as calling the Obama administration "terrorist" because of th Trail of Tears.

8:33AM PDT on Jun 29, 2012

Robi T. Here's why!

The constant attacks on the Kurdish People seeking their right of independence from Turkish control - does that "ring a bell" and The Armenian Genocide that occurred when 2 million Armenians living in Turkey were eliminated from their historic homeland through forced deportation and massacres by the Turks.

9:45PM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

Well errr... any other nation would have fired across the front of the plane, NOT shot to kill.
I suppose it would be different if they were in a state of war but I have not heard that they were. If there is something to the story that I am missing please speak up.

From my point of view Syria is trying to start a fight which they won't be able to win.

2:41AM PDT on Jun 27, 2012

@Kasia Y. "Oh yeah, Turkey is also a terrorist regime."
What planet do you live on?

8:09PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

The Turkish fighter jets are supposed to have strayed over Syrian airspace accidentally and the Syrians pursued and fired on them when they were back in international airspace. The Turkish action may have been a provaction like to Tonkin Bay incident during Viet Nam. However, Turkey is a member of NATO and since the UN cannot do anything to intervene in the situation without Russia or China's approval maybe NATO will have to intervene or set up no fly zones.

5:01PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Good grief, what's next?

4:10PM PDT on Jun 26, 2012

Imagine, just imagine if that was a US plane that'd been shot at!.....

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