Turkey calls in big guns to deal with Syria plane shooting
Turkish Foreign Minister, Ahmet Davutoglu leaves a briefing on Syria yesterday
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Turkey called for a NATO meeting and issued a stark warning to Syria on Sunday over a downed Turkish fighter jet, raising fears that the incident could send tensions soaring in the region.
The moves came after Ankara accused its onetime ally of shooting down a Turkish F-4 phantom jet on Friday when it was clearly in international airspace after briefly straying into Syrian territory.
"According to our conclusions, our plane was shot down in international airspace, 13 nautical miles from Syria," Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told TRT television.
"The plane did not show any sign of hostility toward Syria and was shot down about 15 minutes after having momentarily violated Syrian airspace," he said.
The minister said that there was no warning from Syria before it shot down the plane, which was on an unarmed training mission to carry out a radar system test.
"The Syrians knew full well that it was a Turkish military plane and the nature of its mission," he said.
"Nobody should dare put Turkey's (military) capabilities to the test," Davutoglu warned. "No-one can threaten Turkey's security."
There was no immediate Syrian response to Davutoglu's claims.
Turkey has called for an emergency NATO meeting of the alliance following the incident and the meeting was due to take place on Tuesday, a diplomatic source said.
Turkey is a key member of NATO, whose charter stipulates that an attack against any member of the Western military alliance is considered an attack on all.
Syria has said it took out the F-4 phantom jet on Friday after it violated its airspace and on Saturday Turkey acknowledged that the plane may have done so in comments seen as a bid to cool tensions between the former allies.
In a statement issued after Syria confirmed it had downed the plane, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey would take all necessary steps once it had established the facts.
Turkey has become a major critic of President Bashar Assad over his crackdown on an uprising against his rule.
Armed opposition to Assad's rule have based themselves in Turkey, with the leader of the Free Syrian Army attempting to direct the insurgency from there.
But UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Saturday that he hoped both sides would exercise restraint.
"The secretary-general is following the situation closely. He hopes this serious incident can be handled with restraint by both sides through diplomatic channels," Ban's spokesman Martin Nesirky said in a statement.
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