Turkish Cabinet to Discuss Syrian Attack Against Jet

Posted June 25th, 2012 at 3:40 am (UTC-5)
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Turkey's cabinet is to meet Monday to discuss the downing of a Turkish military jet by Syria last week – an act Ankara says happened, without warning, in international airspace.

The meeting comes a day before NATO ambassadors are scheduled to hold consultations requested by Turkey, under the alliance's founding treaty, which commits all members to protect one another's security and borders.

Details of the Friday incident remain unclear.

Turkey says the jet's two pilots were on an unarmed training mission and inadvertently entered Syrian airspace for a brief period before leaving and being struck by Syrian fire several minutes later. Syria said it fired on the jet because it was flying close to its coast, in violation of Syrian airspace.

Western powers have condemned Syria for the attack.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton calls it a “brazen act.” British Foreign Secretary William Hague says London is ready to pursue “robust” United Nations Security Council action against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's government.

Monday, Australia announced new trade sanctions against Syria, adding to its existing arms embargo and financial and travel restrictions against those associated with the Assad government. Australian Foreign Minister Bob Carr says the Syrian government “continues to show its unwillingness to negotiate a ceasefire” and end the country's bloodshed.

In Syria Sunday, opposition activists said attacks by government and rebel forces killed at least 40 people across the country. They say fighting in the northeastern region, Deir el-Zour, killed at least 13 people. Government shelling killed seven members of the same family in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Relations between Turkey and Syria have been tense since last year, when Ankara began criticizing Mr. Assad's deadly crackdown on an opposition uprising against his autocratic rule. Syria has criticized Turkey for hosting Syrian opposition forces. It accuses Turkish authorities of providing weapons and intelligence to the rebels.

Political observers in Turkey say the Turkish government's response to the attack on its aircraft has been restrained and measured, so far. Ankara has promised to take strong, decisive and legitimate action once the facts of the incident are known.