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  • » 06/25/2012, 00.00

    TURKEY - SYRIA

    Tension mounts between Ankara and Damascus. NATO and EU to debate shooting down of jet



    The Turkish foreign minister says the attack occurred over international waters. Strong criticism from the U.S. and Britain. Syria lowers tones: "There is no enmity between Syria and Turkey." NATO’s difficult position.

    Istanbul (AsiaNews) - The Turkish military jet shot down by Syria June 22 last, risks becoming a "casus belli". After some reassuring statements in recent days, yesterday, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that Turkey will discuss the incident and the possible answers with NATO. The issue will also be discussed at a meeting of EU foreign ministers scheduled for today in Luxembourg.

    In the days leading up to this the declarations of both Damascus and Ankara were measured: the Turks have even admitted that the fighter jet had violated Syrian airspace and naval forces of both states had been searching the waters for the two pilots off Latakia ( v.: 23/06/2012 Ankara acknowledges one of its planes may have strayed into Syrian airspace). Yesterday Davutoglu, while admitting that the F-4 Phantom may have entered Syrian airspace, said it "was shot down in international airspace, 13 nautical miles from Syria." He also warned that "no one should dare to challenge the military might of Turkey."

    The United States and Great Britain have both condemned the act. U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has said that his country "condemns this blatant and unacceptable act" that shows "the Syrian authorities' callous disregard for international norms, human life, and peace and security". UK Foreign Secretary William Hague said the Syrian military's actions were "outrageous" and underlined "how far beyond accepted behaviour the Syrian regime has put itself".

    There are still very subdued tones on the Syrian side. Makdissi Jihad, spokesman for the Syrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said that " "There is no enmity between Syria and Turkey, but political tension [exists] between the two countries. What happened was an accident and not an assault as some like to say, because the plane was shot while it was in Syrian airspace and flew over Syrian territorial waters." 

    Relations between Syria and Turkey, which share at least 900 km of borders, became strained after the revolts against Assad. Turkey supports the rebels and allows the flow of money and weapons to the insurgents, who Damascus defines "terrorists", through it's boarders.

    At the same time, Ankara fears that Kurdish minority in Syria can give a hand to the Kurds in Turkey, who are fighting for autonomy.

    Several analysts are wondering what Turkey will demand of NATO. In all likelihood there will be statements of solidarity with Ankara, but military actions or other punitive actions are unlikely. Various NATO member countries on an individual level support the revolt against Assad, but the organization has continually said that it had no intention of being involved in military operations - like those in Libya - that could destabilize the situation of the entire region.

     

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    See also

    26/06/2012 TURKEY - SYRIA
    Ankara warns UN the jet shot down a "security threat" from Syria
    The Turkish deputy prime minister declares that this "hostile act ... shall not be unpunished." Today, NATO meets to discuss a possible joint response to Syria. But Erdogan remains moderate and European countries exclude any military action.

    04/10/2012 TURKEY - SYRIA
    Turkish reprisals on Syrian border. Push for NATO intervention
    Representatives from Ankara warn the UN and seek military intervention of the NATO member countries. But there are those who suspect that the bombs were thrown by anti-Assad rebels to provoke war in the region.

    27/06/2012 SYRIA
    Damascus, attack on a pro-government television station, three dead
    The assault happened in Drousha 20 km south of the capital. So far there are no claims of responsibility. Bashar al-Assad announces that Syria is at war. Government cabinet reshuffled. The priority is to fight and defeat the terrorists.

    15/06/2011 SYRIA – TURKEY
    Giant pro-Assad rally in Damascus, bishop says 80 per cent of the people behind him
    A 2.3-kilometre flag is carried through the streets of the capital. Syria’s Red Crescent society and its Turkish counterpart organise the repatriation of thousands of refugees who crossed into Turkey following the attack against Jisr al-Shughour. Syrian authorities announce a “limited” military operation against Maraat an-Numan.

    14/05/2011 SYRIA
    More deaths yesterday in Syria despite Bashar al-Assad’s promises
    The Syrian president issued orders to his security forces not to shoot at demonstrators on the “Friday of the free women of Syria”. Next week, talks are planned with a presidential adviser to discuss opposition demands.



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