Turkey accuses Syria of shooting at rescue plane following ‘hostile act’


Turkey said on Monday that Syrian forces had fired at a second Turkish plane which was searching for an F-4 reconnaissance jet shot down by Syria last week, but the second plane was not brought down.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told a news conference that Turkey would protect itself, within the framework of international law, against what it called Syria’s “hostile action” of downing its warplane last week, according to Reuters.

He said at the end of a seven-hour cabinet meeting on the incident that Syria’s downing of the reconnaissance jet would “not go unpunished” and then threatened that Turkey may cut electricity exports to Syria.

“We have considered that for humanitarian reasons one should supply electricity to Syria so that the daily lives of the people are not affected,” Arinc said. “For the moment we will continue with this... but in one or two days there will be a declaration whether we will continue or not.”

He also accused Syria of intentionally shooting down the fighter jet in international airspace with a missile.

“There is no doubt that the Syrians intentionally shot down our plane in international airspace,” he told the cabinet, speaking of Friday’s incident. “The facts in our possession show that our plane was hit by a heat-seeking guided laser missile.”

“To target an aircraft in this fashion without any warning is a hostile act of the highest order,” he said at a press conference following a cabinet meeting to discuss Friday’s incident over the Mediterranean.

The official also said that Turkey had no intention of going to war with anyone after one the jet was shot down by Syria and said it would only act in accordance with international law.

“Whatever is needed to be done will definitely be done within the framework of international law. We have no intention of going to war with anyone. We have no such intent,” Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told a news conference Turkey after a seven-hour cabinet meeting on the incident.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government said it downed the F-4 Phantom on Friday after the Turkish jet violated Syrian airspace.

NATO has said it will discuss Turkey’s accusations, while Britain, another member of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, has offered support for “robust” international action.

Turkey-Syria relations have already been strained by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s outspoken condemnation of the Assad’s regime’s bloody crackdown, which rights activists say has killed more than 15,000 people since March 2011.

The United States said on Monday it would work with NATO ally Turkey to hold Syria accountable for what U.S. officials believe was a deliberate act of shooting down the Turkish fighter jet.

But White House spokesman Jay Carney sidestepped questions about what an appropriate response might be to the incident.

“We will work with Turkey and other partners to hold the Assad regime accountable,” Carney told reporters on board Air Force One as President Barack Obama flew to New Hampshire.

“We are in close contact with Turkish officials as they investigate,” Carney said, noting that Turkey was expected to make a presentation about the incident at a NATO meeting on Tuesday.

“Turkey has been a leader in the international community’s effort to address the Syrian regime’s violence against its own people,” said U.S. Secretary of State Hilary Clinton on Sunday.

“We will continue our close cooperation with Turkey as part of our broader efforts to promote a democratic transition in Syria,” she said.