Turkish Minister: Jet Downed in International Territory

Posted June 24th, 2012 at 5:20 am (UTC-5)
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Turkey's foreign minister says Syria shot down a Turkish fighter jet while the air craft was flying in international territory.

Ahmet Davutoglu told state-run TRT television Sunday the pilots were testing the jet's radar capabilities when it was downed Friday over the Mediterranean Sea. The minister says the plane had entered Syrian airspace briefly, but had left about 15 minutes before it was shot down.

On Saturday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul had said the fighter jet may have violated Syria's air space, but he said it is “routine” for warplanes flying at high speed to cross borders for short distances.

Iran has urged Syria and Turkey to show restraint following the downing of the warplane. Iran's foreign minister, Ali Akbar Salehi, had a telephone conversation Saturday with his Turkish counterpart Davutoglu. Iran's minister called for a peaceful resolution to the issue.

Iran has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since anti-government protests erupted across the country last year and grew into an armed uprising.

Syria has acknowledged downing the plane, saying it trespassed on Syria's territorial waters. Syrian authorities said they shot down the fighter jet in accordance with laws that govern such situations.

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

Also Saturday, Syrian Prime Minister Riad Farid Hijab named a new cabinet, retaining the same foreign, defense and interior ministers, while violence continued.

The British-based Observatory said at least 40 people have been killed across the country since Friday.

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.