.
.
.
.

Missing fighter jet crashed near Syria border, Turkey says

Published: Updated:

Turkish officials said Monday that a missing fighter jet crashed and its fuselage and debris have been found in a mountainous area close to the border with Syria.

Celalettin Cerrah, the governor for Osmaniye province, said that rescue teams were still searching for its pilot who radioed that he was ejecting before contact was lost.

The military said earlier it had lost contact with the F-16 jet over Osmaniye, which lies some 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the border with Syria.

Private NTV television, citing unnamed military sources, said the crash was most likely accidental.

In June, Syrian forces show down a Turkish military reconnaissance plane, escalating tensions between the two neighbors.

Relations between the two countries have been strained ever since Turkey fell out with President Bashar al-Assad over his violent response to what began as a peaceful protest movement and then became an armed rebellion.

Turkey now harbors Syrian rebel forces and refugees on its territory, and has called for Assad’s departure.

Syrian army shells have strayed into Turkish towns, and on Saturday, Turkey blamed a group with links to Syrian intelligence for two bomb blasts that killed 46 people on the Turkish border town of Reyhanli, home to thousands of Syrian refugees and a logistics base for the rebels.