|NATO to meet over Syria’s downing of Turkish jet|
|Tuesday, 26 June 2012 11:47|
DAMASCUS — NATO governments expressed mounting anger yesterday over the downing of a Turkish fighter jet by Syria as alliance ministers prepared to hold an emergency meeting on the shooting.
Ankara says the aircraft was fired on in international waters, not inside Syrian airspace as Damascus maintains, and is urging ministers at today’s meeting to honour the collective defence rights of a fellow NATO member.
“This is completely unacceptable.”
Turkey has already acknowledged that its fighter jet might at some point have entered Syrian airspace. But after an initially cautious response, Ankara toughened its rhetoric on Sunday.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told Turkey's TRT television that at the time it was shot down, their plane was in international airspace, 13 nautical miles from Syria.
The fighter had been on an unarmed training mission to carry out a radar system test, and both crew are still missing.
Syria has acknowledged shooting down the F-4 phantom jet after it violated its airspace, but insists it only identified it as a Turkish fighter after the fact.
But UN Security Council member Britain warned that President Bashar al-Assad’s regime “should not make the mistake of believing that it can act with impunity.”
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton condemned a “brazen and unacceptable act” and promised US assistance in investigating the incident.
Turkish-Syrian relations have been strained by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s outspoken condemnation of the Assad regime’s bloody crackdown, which activists say has killed more than 15 000 people since March last year.
Already Saturday, UN chief Ban Ki-moon had expressed his “deep concern” about the incident, particularly about the “potential serious implications” for the region, spokesman Martin Nesirky said. — AFP.