Turkey’s President: Warplane May Have Crossed Syrian Border

Posted June 23rd, 2012 at 1:50 pm (UTC-5)
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Turkish President Abdullah Gul says his country's fighter jet shot down by Syrian air defense forces may have violated Syria's air space.

Mr. Gul said Saturday it is “routine” for warplanes flying at high speed to cross borders for short distances. He said a probe would determine if the U.S.-made F-4 jet was brought down in Turkish airspace.

The fighter jet was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea Friday.

Syria has acknowledged downing the plane, saying it was flying low and in Syrian airspace at the time.

Turkey's Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said the aircraft was used for reconnaissance. Syria has repeatedly charged Turkey with funneling reconnaissance information to rebels in Syria and sending them arms. Turkey has denied those accusations.

Syrian and Turkish forces are working together to search for the two missing Turkish pilots.

A U.N. spokesperson said Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon hopes the incident can be handled with restraint by both sides through diplomatic channels.

Relations between Turkey and Syria are tense, with Turkey condemning Syria's bloody crackdown on protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Turkey has joined nations such as the United States in saying President Assad should step down because of the uprising in his country.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said following an emergency security meeting Friday that Turkey will take the “necessary steps” to respond to the shooting down of the fighter jet after the facts are known.