NATO Condemns Syria’s Downing of Turkish Jet

Posted June 26th, 2012 at 1:55 pm (UTC-5)
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NATO has condemned Syria for shooting down a Turkish military jet last Friday, calling the attack an example of the Syrian government's “disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life.”

Following a meeting of alliance envoys in Brussels, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said he does not expect the situation to escalate. He said he expects Syria to take “all necessary steps” to avoid such events in the future. He said the allies would continue to monitor developments.

“Let me make this clear: the security of the alliance is indivisible. We stand together with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity.”

Turkey requested the meeting under a NATO treaty article that allows a member nation to call for consultations with others if it feels its security has been threatened.

In Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament the country's measured response to Friday's attack should not be mistaken for weakness.

He said Turkey's friendship is valuable, but that its “wrath” is just as strong. He said Turkey's military will respond to any border violations from Syria.

Turkey says the unarmed military plane inadvertently entered Syrian airspace for a brief period before leaving and then being struck by Syrian fire. Syria calls the incident an act of self-defense.

In other developments, Russia's ambassador to the United Nations, Vitaly Churkin, told reporters that Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will attend the “Syrian contact group” meeting in Geneva this Saturday at the invitation of U.N. special envoy Kofi Annan.

“We attach great importance to this meeting. As you know, Russia proposed an international conference on Syria, and this is very much in line with our thinking, so I hope that other planned participants are going to be there as well, so we are looking forward to it and hope it can provide a powerful impetus for political efforts to put an end to the conflict.”

A number of world powers are to meet to try to revive a U.N.-backed peace plan that has been unsuccessful. Russian officials say Iran should be a participant.

Russia, along with China, has blocked attempts in the U.N. Security Council to take stronger action against Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.