Turkish warplane shot down by Syria 14 replies

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Commissar MercZ

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#1 6 years ago

Turkish-Syrian relations were always an odd one in the Middle-East. For much of their history it was complicated due to the Cold War, with Syria taking a pro-Soviet direction while Turkey was pro-American. In the late 80s and 1990s, Syria was known to have hosted various rebel groups in Syria as well as in the Beeka Valley of Lebanon when Syria occupied it, where the PKK had also been involved. This resulted in an essentially militarized border between the two states for the longest time.

There was a slight-warming in relations in the late 90s and onwards over mutual concerns of trade, but it has worsened once again. This is not the first time where Turkey has accused Syria of violence directed against it as a result of the strife, notably a few months ago where several Syrians were shot on the Turkish end of the border. However this would be the first such violence against a Turkish asset. To add to the mix Turkey has once again said that the PKK is still acting on the interests of Syria and is saying this now constitutes a security risk.

The article also goes into a killing which was carried out by the FSA, though they say they were members of the Syrian paramilitaries.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/06/23/world/middleeast/mass-killing-reported-in-syria-apparently-a-rebel-ambush.html

Turkey Says Syria Shot Down Warplane By DALAL MAWAD and RICK GLADSTONE

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Turkey announced Friday that Syrian forces had shot down a Turkish warplane with two crew members over the Mediterranean, a potentially ominous turn for the worse in relations already frayed because of Turkey’s support for Syrian rebels fighting to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad.

The Syrians later acknowledged their antiaircraft gunners had downed the plane, contending it had violated Syrian airspace.

Turkey’s announcement, from the office of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, came after an emergency security summit by Turkish officials in Ankara over the fate of the plane, which had been reported missing hours earlier amid conflicting reports over whether it had crashed or been downed intentionally.

The measured wording of the announcement suggested that Turkey had not yet concluded the Syrian action was provocative, and it acknowledged that Syrian rescue teams were cooperating in trying to locate the aircraft and crew. But the statement also left open the possibility that Turkey, a NATO member, would respond militarily, an outcome that could further complicate and widen the Syrian conflict.

“As the result of the data provided by our related institutions and the research jointly conducted with Syria, it was understood that our plane has been downed by Syria,” said the statement from Mr. Erdogan’s office. “Turkey, after the incident is fully enlightened, will lay forward its attitude and take necessary steps.”

It was the first time since Syrian-Turkish relations began to deteriorate last year that the Syrian military had shot down a Turkish military aircraft.

The plane, identified by Turkish and Western news agencies as an American-made F-4 Phantom, went down in the Mediterranean near the southern coast of Turkey’s Hatay Province, which borders Syria’s Latakia Province.

The Syrian Defense Ministry said later in a statement carried by the official Syrian Arab News Agency that its antiaircraft gunners had hit an unidentified aircraft flying at “very low altitude and at high speed” over Syria’s territorial waters less than a mile offshore, causing it to crash into the sea near the village of Om al-Tuyour. The Syrian statement said it was later determined that the aircraft was a “Turkish military plane that entered Syrian airspace and was dealt with according to laws observed in such cases.”

Mr. Erdogan is one of the most strident critics of Syria’s harsh repression of its anti-government uprising, now in its 16th month. Turkey has allowed more than 32,000 Syrian refugees to seek sanctuary and has permitted Syria’s opposition forces and exile dissidents to organize and funnel supplies from Turkey over the 550-mile border into Syria.

Turkey is also a leading member of the “Friends of Syria” group of countries, including the United States, that has been pushing for the ouster of Mr. Assad. Last month, Turkey joined the United States and European countries in expelling Syrian diplomats in response to evidence that Mr. Assad’s forces had massacred civilians in western Syria.

The new rupture in Turkey-Syria relations came as reports of a possible new mass killing emerged Friday in northern Syria’s Aleppo Province.

Opposition activists said those killings, in the village of Daret Azzeh, were the outcome of a military skirmish in which soldiers of the Free Syrian Army, the main armed rebel force, carried out a surprise attack on a group that included suspected members of the shabiha, the feared pro-government militia accused by the opposition of complicity in numerous killings, detentions and torture. At least 25 men were shot to death.

“The armed opposition in the area ambushed a number of cars,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an antigovernment group based in Britain with networks of contacts inside Syria.

A video that the Observatory posted online from activists, said to have been recorded in Daret Azzeh, showed carnage, with bloodied corpses piled around a white pickup truck riddled with bullet holes. Many corpses were clothed in military fatigues or black clothes, a trademark of the shabiha.

The official Syrian Arab News Agency’s account of the Daret Azzeh killings attributed them to armed terrorist gangs, the standard government description for all opposition forces, and said the killers had kidnapped and tortured the victims.

At least 56 people were killed elsewhere in clashes and protests around Syria, opposition accounts said, and for the third consecutive day, the Red Cross and Red Crescent were unable to enter the city of Homs to evacuate injured and civilians despite both sides ostensibly agreeing to a cease-fire.

The mayhem in Syria has escalated since Maj. Gen. Robert Mood, the Norwegian commander of the 300-member group of United Nations monitors in Syria, suspended its work on June 16 because of relentless violations of a two-month-old cease-fire and a peace plan that has all but collapsed.

Kofi Annan, the special envoy of the United Nations and Arab League who negotiated that plan, issued a new plea on Friday for intensified international pressure on the antagonists in the conflict.

“It’s time for countries of influence to raise the level of pressure on the parties on the ground and to persuade them to stop the killing and start the talking,” Mr. Annan told a news conference he held with General Mood at the Geneva offices of the United Nations. “The longer we wait, the darker Syria’s future becomes.”

Mr. Annan has been working to convene a June 30 meeting in Geneva of Syria’s neighbors and major powers who can exert influence over the Syrian government and opposition. He told reporters that he had made clear he wants the meeting to include Iran, Mr. Assad’s only ally in the region, despite objections by the United States and Britain. Russia, Mr. Assad’s most important backer, wants Iran to participate in such a meeting.

The Russians also have grown increasingly irritated with what they view as inaccurate American accusations that the Kremlin is arming the Syrian military with weapons aimed at crushing Mr. Assad’s opponents.

Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov of Russia reiterated that irritation on Friday in remarks reported by Russia’s Interfax news service, saying that in his view, relations with the Americans are complicated by “the American mentality, the thought one has instilled since one’s childhood — we are number one in the world and we are infallible.”

Dalal Mawad reported from Beirut, and Rick Gladstone from New York. Reporting was contributed by Sebnem Arsu from Istanbul, Turkey, Hwaida Saad from Beirut, Nick Cumming-Bruce from Geneva and Ellen Barry from Moscow.




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#2 6 years ago

It looks like both sides try to de-escalate. There might have been tensions with Syira in recent months, but I don't think they were so bad that this incident would trigger any big reactions. I wonder what they shot the plane down with.

Makes you think though. If Syria shot the Phantom down over international or even Turkish waters it would be an act of war against a member of NATO.




Commissar MercZ

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#3 6 years ago

MrFancypants;5645789It looks like both sides try to de-escalate. There might have been tensions with Syira in recent months, but I don't think they were so bad that this incident would trigger any big reactions. I wonder what they shot the plane down with.

Makes you think though. If Syria shot the Phantom down over international or even Turkish waters it would be an act of war against a member of NATO.

Yes, they have tried to cooperate in finding the wreckage of the plane. Turkey's still angry about this though, and it's definitely giving it some more room to burn more bridges with Syria.

As to what it was shot down with I'm not sure, most news sources covering this event just say "anti-aircraft gunners" so not an aircraft I'd guess.

For those of you who want to see around where they lost contact with the plane, here's a map. As the original article says, it was in the waters near the coast of Latakia, near the border with the Turkish Hatay province. The plane was an F-4 phantom from a base in Malatya in the interior of Turkey some distance northeast in the interior.




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#4 6 years ago

Well Turkey called for a NATO meeting to discuss a response. Earlier they claimed the aircrafft was in international airspace (again) when it was hit.




Commissar MercZ

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#5 6 years ago
MrFancypants;5645866Well Turkey called for a NATO meeting to discuss a response. Earlier they claimed the aircrafft was in international airspace (again) when it was hit.

Yes, and Turkish media is currently saying (again) that the plane was in international waters and also pushing the government's stance that it was doing only training and nothing else. Some sources I'm reading say that they want to push this to the UN Security Council too, as well as the Turkish Foreign Ministry saying that these jets did not recieve a warning before getting shot down. In light of that I wonder what Turkey will try to get out of NATO's consultation on the issue; considering though that they've been among the loudest in pushing for arming the rebels if not intervening directly, it's going to be in that area I'd guess.




Commissar MercZ

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#6 6 years ago

The United States is standing by Turkey here in this case, and the latter is going towards the opinion that this was a hostile act though it is doubtful they could drag NATO into this ongoing mess between them and Syria. It would however continue to justify their current position towards Syria though, that the government can not be worked with.

Turkey now says that a second plane was fired upon that was looking for the downed craft.

BBC News - Syria shot at second plane, Turkey says

Syria shot at second plane, Turkey says

Turkey says Syria fired on one of its planes that was taking part in a rescue operation for a warplane shot down by Syrian forces last Friday.

Turkey's deputy PM said the CASA search and rescue plane, looking for the F-4 Phantom jet, was not brought down.

He vowed Syria would "not go unpunished" but that Turkey had "no intention" of going to war.

Nato will discuss the downing of the jet on Tuesday at a meeting called by Turkey, a member state. 'Restrained response'

Speaking at a televised news conference, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc did not specify when the second incident took place and did not say whether the search and rescue plane was hit.

He said the Syrians had stopped firing following a warning from the Turkish side.

Mr Arinc said Turkey would protect itself within the framework of international law, but had "no intention of going to war with anyone".

Syria has insisted the F-4 was engaged while it was inside its airspace.

Syrian foreign ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the location of the wreckage would prove its case.

He said on state TV: "There is no doubt that the Syrians intentionally shot down our plane in international airspace. The facts in our possession show that our plane was hit by a heat-seeking laser-guided missile."

He added: "To target an aircraft in this fashion without any warning is a hostile act of the highest order."

Mr Arinc also said Turkey would decide in the coming days whether to cut electricity exports to Syria, a move he said had not yet been taken because of "humanitarian reasons".

Turkey has also sent a letter to the UN Security Council saying the downing of its jet poses a serious threat to peace and security in the region.

The BBC's Barbara Plett at the UN says the letter does not ask the council to take any action.

A senior Western official at the UN said he did not expect a military response from either Ankara or Nato.

Meanwhile, the search is continuing for the jet and its crew, but hopes of the two men being found alive are fading.

Nato members have condemned Syria's actions and convened a meeting under article 4 of its constitution, which states any member can request talks if it feels its territorial integrity has been threatened.

The BBC's Jonathan Head in Istanbul says Turkey is looking for the strongest possible diplomatic support from its allies over the incident - but its options for showing its anger to Syria are very limited.

On Monday, EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton urged Turkey to be "restrained in its response".

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle also urged calm, saying: "De-escalation is crucial at this moment." Trickle of defections

Earlier on Monday, Turkish media reported that several high-ranking Syrian military figures had defected to Turkey.

A general, two colonels, two majors and about 30 other soldiers were said to have crossed into Hatay province on Sunday night.

They were part of a group of some 200 people who crossed the border, the Anatolia news agency said.

There has been a steady trickle of defections from the Syrian armed forces over the past year, most of them to opposition forces fighting inside the country.

Our correspondent says this is one of the biggest single groups of soldiers to defect to Turkey but so far there is no evidence that they have had a significant impact on the Syrian military's ability to fight.




Octovon

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#7 6 years ago

Reading about the event in question, why would Syrian government forces intentionally shoot at a Turkish aircraft, or any foreign aircraft for that matter, if the result is the possibility of foreign intervention in Syria? The whole thing seems a little odd to me.

That said, crazier shit happens in the world but this may yet be that convenient excuse for NATO or 'Western' intervention in Syria to bring about some good old-fashioned regime change... and you know, help the people of Syria...




MrFancypants Forum Admin

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#8 6 years ago

Yesterday I read that Syria claims the F-4 has been shot down with anti-aircraft artillery. This would imply that the F-4 was very close to the Syrian coast. A Turkish official spoke of a "heat seaking laser guided missile" that destroyed the jet in international airspace, which seems strange as I don't think that there are any laser guided anti-air missiles.

That the Syrian fired at a second Turkish plane is crazy - those guys are really asking for trouble.

Octovon;5646250Reading about the event in question, why would Syrian government forces intentionally shoot at a Turkish aircraft, or any foreign aircraft for that matter, if the result is the possibility of foreign intervention in Syria? The whole thing seems a little odd to me.

Syrian air defense is probably on hightened alert for a while. There were reports a while ago that Syria was moving around SAM sites, apparently to prepare for a possible no-fly zone. So if during a civil war with the chance of foreign intervention an American made fighter bomber seems to be flying towards your coast at low altitude it is understandable that a nervous gun crew might open fire.

Wouldn't be the first time that overzealous gunners cause trouble by following guidelines without thinking about the consequences either, the US shot down an Iranian passenger jet in the 80s and the Soviets shot down a Korean 747 a few years before that.




Commissar MercZ

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#9 6 years ago

Octovon;5646250Reading about the event in question, why would Syrian government forces intentionally shoot at a Turkish aircraft, or any foreign aircraft for that matter, if the result is the possibility of foreign intervention in Syria? The whole thing seems a little odd to me.

That said, crazier shit happens in the world but this may yet be that convenient excuse for NATO or 'Western' intervention in Syria to bring about some good old-fashioned regime change... and you know, help the people of Syria...

AFAIK NATO has ruled out intervening over this particular incident, though they "stood" by Turkey. It has given Turkey the pretext to continue worsening its relations with Syria and increasing its support to FSA though. Now it says that it will treat Syrian forces approaching the border too closely as hostile, which would admittedly put Syria in an awkward position as it tries to squeeze out the main avenue(s) by which the FSA supplies itself.

There's definitely a certain bent against Syria here though, trying to drum up the case of some sort of intervention. We see two different accounts here (as with Houla and many other events), with the government saying that the only way they could have shot down this fighter if it was within 2 km of its coastline (and therefore violating its airspace), while Turkey maintains that it was shot down over international waters.

As to why they would have done this, I've read many different things. One, like Mr FancyPants said, is that this may have just been nervous gunners. I've also read the angle that this may have been a way to send a message that their AA network is more robust than those of Libya.

The ball's in Turkey's court though. It's making a lot of talk, and what we see in the coming days is whether or not that translates into anything.




Red Menace

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#10 6 years ago
MrFancypants;5646267Yesterday I read that Syria claims the F-4 has been shot down with anti-aircraft artillery. This would imply that the F-4 was very close to the Syrian coast. A Turkish official spoke of a "heat seaking laser guided missile" that destroyed the jet in international airspace, which seems strange as I don't think that there are any laser guided anti-air missiles.

Beam riding has widespread use in SAMs because of its simplicity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laser_beam_riding


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