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Syria: Downed jet was in international airspace, Turkey says

Ankara said F-4 "Phantom" fighter jet shot down by Syria earlier this week was in international airspace.

Syria Turkey 6 24 2012 Enlarge
Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu (R) leaves a meeting focused on Syria with army generals and other officials on Syria, in Ankara, on June 23, 2012. (ADEM ALTAN/AFP/Getty Images)

The Turkish government said a military jet shot down by Syria earlier this week was in international airspace when hit, the DPA news agency reported

Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu reportedly said in an interview with the TRT Haber state news channel on Sunday that the F-4 "Phantom" fighter jet was on a training mission and not involved in any covert operation against Syria when hit 13 nautical miles (about 15 miles) off the Syrian coast.

He said instead that the jet was participating in a test of Turkey's national radar system, CNN reported.

The Turkish and Syrian navies are still searching for the two crew members in the eastern Mediterranean Sea.

Syria maintains that it engaged the aircraft in its airspace "according to the laws that govern such situations," the BBC reported.

Davutoglu asserted that the unarmed fighter had entered Syrian airspace by mistake on Friday but had left by the time it was shot down several minutes later.

"According to our conclusions, our plane was shot down in international airspace, 13 nautical miles from Syria," he said.

Under international law, a country's airspace extends 12 nautical miles from its coastline.

According to CNN, Davutoglu said Syria gave no warning before attack, and he accused the Assad regime of spreading disinformation about the incident.

"They have created the impression that Syria felt like it was an act of aggression and they shot it down.... from our perspective that's not the case," Davutoglu told reporters.

"You have to first send a caution, a warning," he continued.

"If the warning doesn't work, you scramble your planes, you send a stronger signal, you force the plane to land. There wasn't enough time to do any of that in the time that our plane was in Syrian airspace.

"We have to question how it is that an unarmed, solo flight got this response from the Syrians."

Ankara has declared it will formally consult with NATO allies on a reaction, Al Jazeera reported, and said that response will be strong and decisive once it has ascertained all the circumstances of the incident. 

UN leader Ban Ki-moon has also raised his "deep concern" about the impact of the incident.

More from GlobalPost: Syria: How it all began with a couple of kids and a can of spray paint

 

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/middle-east/syria/120624/syria-turkey-air-force-phantom-spy-plane-istanbul-international-airspace