Turkey PM Erdogan issues Syria border warning


Syria has become an "open threat" to Turkey, PM Erdogan says

Turkey says its military rules of engagement have changed after Syria shot down a Turkish plane that reportedly strayed into its territory.

PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament that if Syrian troops approached Turkey's borders, they would be seen as a military threat.

Meanwhile Nato has expressed its condemnation of Syria's attack as well as strong support for Turkey.

Syria insists the F-4 Phantom jet was shot down inside Syrian airspace.

The plane crashed into the eastern Mediterranean and its two pilots are missing.

Meanwhile, fierce fighting has been reported between the Syrian army and rebel forces in the suburbs of the capital Damascus.

Witnesses say it is some of the most intense violence in the area since the uprising against President Bashar al-Assad began more than a year ago.

In other developments on Tuesday:

  • The head of UN peacekeeping operations, Herve Ladsous, said the monitoring mission in Syria would remain suspended because of mounting violence.
  • Russia said its foreign minister Sergei Lavrov would attend an international conference on Syria in Geneva on 30 June

Mr Erdogan spoke of Turkey's "rage" at the decision to shoot down the F-4 Phantom on 22 June and described Syria as a "clear and present threat".

"A short-term border violation can never be a pretext for an attack," he said. The Turkish jet was on a training flight, testing Turkey's radars in the eastern Mediterranean, he said.

The two accounts
Map of conflicting routes of Turkish jet downed by Syria
Syrian version Turkish version
  • 11:40 local time (08:40 GMT): F-4 spotted flying at altitude of 100m (330ft), 1-2km (0.5-1 nautical miles) from Syrian coast
  • Surprise meant no time to give warning
  • Air defences engaged aircraft about 1km (0.5 nautical miles) from coast; it crashed into sea 10km (5 nautical miles) west of village of Om al-Tuyour
  • Tail wreckage shows jet was hit by anti-aircraft gun, which has a maximum range of 2.5km (1.3 nautical miles)
  • Approx 10:28 local time (07:28 GMT): F-4 leaves Erhac airbase in Malatya province and flies south-west over Hatay province
  • 11:42: jet mistakenly enters Syrian airspace near Latakia at altitude of 61m (200ft) at speed of 300 knots
  • 11:47: leaves after Turkish radar operator warning - no Syrian warning
  • 11:56: jet hit 24 km (13 nautical miles) from Syrian coast at altitude of 7,400ft (2.2km) by heat-seeking or laser-guided missile.
  • 11:58: crashes into the sea

He made it clear that Turkey was adopting a "common sense" attitude, although that "shouldn't be perceived as a weakness".

"Every military element approaching Turkey from the Syrian border and representing a security risk and danger will be assessed as a military threat and will be treated as a military target," he said.

Turkey requested a meeting of the alliance's ambassadors in Brussels after invoking Article 4 of Nato's founding treaty, which entitles any member state to ask for consultations if it believes its security is threatened.

'Disregard for international norms'

In a statement, the alliance's 28 members said the shooting down of the plane was "unacceptable" and they stood together with Turkey "in the spirit of strong solidarity".

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said: "It is another example of the Syrian authorities' disregard for international norms. Nato allies will remain seized of developments."

Earlier, in a letter to the UN Security Council, Turkey described the shooting down of its reconnaissance plane as a "hostile act" and "a serious threat to peace and security in the region".

Turkey has also accused its neighbour of firing on a search and rescue plane looking for the F-4 Phantom jet, although it was not brought down.

Relations between the two countries were already highly strained before the F-4 was shot down.

Mr Erdogan has been outspoken in his condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose government he accuses of brutally putting down opposition protests.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Nato considered the attack "unacceptable"

In Syria itself, opposition activists on Tuesday reported fierce fighting near Republican Guard positions in suburbs of Damascus.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP news agency that fierce fighting had broken out in Qadsaya and al-Hama, around 8km (5 miles) from the centre of the city. The UK-based organisation also said security forces had entered the Barzeh area of Damascus.

It said 10 people had been killed by shelling in Qadsaya and some 58 people had died in violence across Syria - 24 soldiers, 30 civilians and four rebels.

Syrian state TV reported that dozens of "terrorists" had been killed in al-Hama and many others taken prisoner, including some non-Syrian Arab nationals.

The Observatory and the Free Syrian Army also said there had been reports of a military helicopter being shot down in Idlib, but gave no details.

The reports cannot be verified.

Fighting was also reported in the old city of Homs where the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) last week tried unsuccessfully to arrange the evacuation of civilians. The ICRC said on Tuesday it was returning to the city for a fresh attempt.


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  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    Like Alex, I'm no fan of Syria but what is Turkey griping about? They have a huge army and military equipment and have had a cavalier, not to say arrogant, attitude towards some of their weaker neighbours:Greece has been complaining about numerous violations of Greek air space by Turkish fighter aircraft as far back as I can remember. Hopefully this latest incident will serve as a lesson to Turkey

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Absolutely, anti-aircraft fire doesn't have a range of over 3 or 4 miles let alone 12. This is a false-flag op and may result in NATO involvement. But as a Syrian, so what if it is! ASSad needs his butt slapped, real hard and NATO have a good excuse to do that. A few tactical strikes here and there. Russia and China can do nothing- Syria wouldn't dare respond! I'm with NATO on this- PLEASE DO IT!

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    even if turkey invaded their airspace momentarily (considering they share such close borders) thats no reason to shoot down the jet, it just goes to show the state of mind of the syrian leader. am shocked there are people actually defending syria at this stage.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    ahh, the arab spring. how it is bringing peace and democracy to the area.

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    Turkey you sent a spy-plane over Syria and it was shot down.
    What did you expect?
    If Syria had sent a spy-plane over Turkey you would have shot it down.

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    @12 Duncan

    I hate to agree with your summary, but I can not find a flaw with the logic.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Turkey is showing quite a bit of restraint-however i hope Assad doesn't misinterpret this for weakness. Going to war with a NATO country isn't good for the middle east-or NATO for that matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    Oguz Saltik @3,

    Who do you suggest should show 'action'? I hope that Britain and all of Europe can stay out of this one, we can't afford any more wars. It is not our business, sorry.

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    #9 if the Syrian AA gunners can hit an F-4 phantom we should give them a job. They shoot better than anyone else. Saddam was hardly short of flak and with a million rounds fired at out aircraft he hit virtually nothing. Infa-red guided missile is far more likely.

    #8 We used F4's until the late 80's. They're strong fast and carry lots of weapons. AK47's are a 1940's design. Still work well.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    If NATO wants to start a war, they are going to argue it was international/turkish airspace. Whatever really, just an excuse.

    Goes to show, international laws are no match to power politics.

  • rate this

    Comment number 13.

    It depends partly on where the plane turned out to actually be, International airspace or Syrian airspace. Whilst the response from Syria was pretty aggressive either way, the answer to that particular question will have a large influence on the outcome of this dilemma from a political point of view.

  • rate this

    Comment number 12.

    So NATO members desperate to attack; Syria knows this. When they feel threatened by NATO and a NATO warplane enters their airspace is it any wonder they retaliated? Provoked in order to justify NATO involvement. The pilots' lives don't matter to these warmongers NATO who are little better than Assad. Humans are disposable to these people; war is all they crave; it's massive business.

  • rate this

    Comment number 11.

    NATO really need to step there game up as the Saudi mercenaries and Jihadists they have hired along with the UK and U.S are taking longer than usual to topple to a middle eastern regime.

  • rate this

    Comment number 10.

    The Assad regime is not only a threat to the region but also a threat to itself. I wonder how much longer Russia will lap it. It is baffling for the regime to think that it will fight it way out this considering the amount people that have been murdered. The earlier they start negotiating with the rebels the better for them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 9.

    Ironic that the alleged violator issues a border warning to the other party... So far the evidence supports the Syrian version of events - short range AAA rather than long range missile puts the Turkish aircraft well within Syrian territorial waters. And you know what? That's not going to matter one little bit to the NATO powers that have a bone to pick... They have their excuse now.

  • rate this

    Comment number 8.

    F4 Phantom...cutting edge flight hardware....well it was in 1960

  • rate this

    Comment number 7.

    Its very clear situation. Assad is killing innocent people every day, and know he added 2 innocent people to his blood history.

  • rate this

    Comment number 6.

    The flash point in that region is Lebanon.

  • rate this

    Comment number 5.

    A pretense for western involvement of the syrian conflict perhaps?

  • rate this

    Comment number 4.

    I never realised Turkey were quite such a formidable force. However, credit is due for attempting to deal with this in a non-milartiristic manner in the first instance.

    Looking forward, I hope this is not the 'Arch Duke Ferdinand' powder keg of the Middle East.


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