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Turkish coast guard searches for the Turkish warplane which was downed by Syria on Friday off Samandagi in Hatay AP/Press Association Images
Syria

NATO 'should view Syria as attacking Turkey'

Turkey said today that it will push NATO to consider Syria’s downing of a Turkish jet as an attack on the whole military alliance.

TURKEY SAID TODAY it would push NATO to consider Syria’s downing of a Turkish jet as an attack on the whole military alliance.

The announcement came on the eve of a meeting by NATO’s governing body to discuss the incident. Despite deep frustration among many NATO countries over the conflict in Syria, where the opposition says President Bashar Assad’s crackdown on an increasingly armed popular uprising has killed 14,000 people, it’s highly unlikely the military alliance will take armed action against the Arab state.

Retaliation

The unarmed RF-4E reconnaissance jet was shot down 1.6 kilometres inside international airspace on Friday, and two Turkish pilots are still missing, the Turkish government says.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc also said for the first time that Syrian forces had opened ground fire on a CASA search and rescue plane shortly after the downing, but did not say if that plane was hit.

Arinc said Turkey retained its right to “retaliate” against what he called a “hostile act,” but he added:

We have no intention of going at war with anyone.

Turkey will push NATO to consider the armed attack under Article 5 in a key alliance treaty, Arinc said. Article 5 states that an attack against one NATO member shall be considered an attack against all members.

NATO

The North Atlantic Council — which includes ambassadors of the 28 NATO countries — works by consensus and all members must approve any action.

Asked if Turkey will insist on the activation of Article 5 of NATO, Arinc said, “No doubt, Turkey has made necessary applications regarding Article 4 and Article 5.”

The prospect of Western military intervention in Syria remains remote, despite all the tough talk.

Such action is unlikely to get the support of either the UN Security Council or the Arab League, and outside intervention without the blessing of both of those bodies is all but unthinkable. And there is little appetite among the NATO countries for another war in the Middle East.

Arinc further strongly denied Syrian claims that the downed plane was shot by anti-aircraft fire while flying low inside Syrian airspace.

The deputy premier admitted the jet mistakenly strayed into Syrian airspace when it was flying at an altitude of 200 feet and at a speed of 300 knots, but said it left the Syrian airspace after warning from Turkish radar operators and that it received no warning from Syrian forces during its five-minute flight inside Syrian territory.

Arinc reiterated Turkey’s insistence that the plane was not spying on Syria but just testing Turkey’s radar capabilities. Arinc said:

There is no doubt that Syrians deliberately targeted our plane in international airspace.

- Selcan Hacaoglu

Read: Hillary Clinton condemns Syria for shooting down Turkish jet>

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Author
Associated Foreign Press
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