Turkey Locates Bodies of Downed Jet’s Pilots

Posted July 4th, 2012 at 10:35 am (UTC-5)
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Turkey's military said Wednesday that the bodies of both pilots of an F-4 jet shot down by Syrian forces last month have been found at the bottom of the eastern Mediterranean sea as violence continued across Syria.

Relations between Ankara and Damascus deteriorated after Syria shot down the Turkish reconnaissance plane on June 22, with Turkey warning it would respond “decisively.” However, both capitals have said they do not want the incident to lead to armed conflict.

Also Wednesday, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad accused Turkey of providing logistical support to what he called “terrorists” in Syria. The Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet quoted Mr. Assad as saying Turkey had a desire to interfere in Syria's internal affairs.

The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told VOA 21 people were killed as clashes continued throughout Syria Wednesday, including 11 in the eastern city of Deir Ezzor, eight in northwest Idlib province and five in and around Damascus. The group also reported clashes south of the capital near a branch of the air force intelligence service.

Opposition activists say the carnage has spiked in recent days, with at least 109 people killed Sunday, 114 on Monday and 69 on Tuesday. VOA cannot independently confirm the reports of casualties or violence because Syria has severe restricted access by international journalists.

Meanwhile, a militant group has claimed responsibility for last week's attack on a pro-government Syrian satellite television station in which seven people were killed.

The U.S.-based SITE monitoring group on Tuesday quoted statements by the Al-Nusra Front on jihadist websites that described the raid on the privately-owned Ikhbariya station as an attack against a “striking arm” of the Syrian government.

Al-Nusra has claimed responsibility for dozens of attacks throughout Syria. Little is known about the group. Syria's widening insurgency has raised fears that Islamist extremists are playing a larger role in the fighting.