Turkey accuses Syria forces of firing at second jet
Turkey to urge NATO to consider downing of jet as an attack on the military alliance; NATO envoys to convene on Tuesday
Syrian forces had fired at a second Turkish plane which was searching for an F-4 reconnaissance jet shot down by Syria last week, but the second plane was not brought down, Turkey said on Monday.
A Turkish government spokesman said that Turkey has no intention of going to war with any other country, however stated that the country will protect itself adding that Syria's actions will not go unpunished.
On Sunday, Turkey said that Syria shot down its military aircraft in international waters, without warning.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc told a news conference that Turkey would protect itself, within the framework of international law, against what it called Syria's "hostile action" of downing its warplane last week.
He said at the end of a seven-hour cabinet meeting on the incident that Syria's downing of the reconnaissance jet would "not go unpunished."
A Syrian official denied that it had shot down a jetfighter that had entered its airspace knowing it was Turkish, the Washington Post reported on Monday
Arinc further strongly denied Syrian claims that the downed plane was shot by anti-aircraft fire while flying low inside Syrian airspace.
The deputy premier admitted the jet mistakenly strayed into Syrian airspace when it was flying at an altitude of 200 feet and at a speed of 300 knots, but said it left the Syrian airspace after warning from Turkish radar operators and that it received no warning from Syrian forces during its five-minute flight inside Syrian territory.
Arinc reiterated Turkey's insistence that the plane was not spying on Syria but just testing Turkey's radar capabilities. "There is no doubt that Syrians deliberately targeted our plane in international airspace," Arinc said, accusing Syria of acting in a "cold-blooded" manner.
NATO council to meet on Tuesday
The announcement came on the eve of a meeting by NATO's governing body to discuss the incident. Despite deep frustration among many NATO countries over the conflict in Syria, where the opposition says President Bashar Assad's crackdown on an increasingly armed popular uprising has killed 14,000 people, it's highly unlikely the military alliance will take armed action against the Arab state.
Envoys from NATO member states will meet on Tuesday after Turkey requested consultations over the downing of its military jet by Syria, a NATO spokeswoman said on Sunday.
Turkey will push NATO to consider the armed attack under Article 5 in a key alliance treaty, Arinc said. Article 5 states that an attack against one NATO member shall be considered an attack against all members.
The North Atlantic Council - which includes ambassadors of the 28 NATO countries - works by consensus and all members must approve any action. The meeting Tuesday comes after Turkey requested it under Article 4 of the treaty, which allows a NATO ally to request such a consultation if it feels its territorial integrity or security has been threatened.
Asked if Turkey will insist on the activation of Article 5 of NATO, Arinc said, "No doubt, Turkey has made necessary applications regarding Article 4 and Article 5."
The prospect of Western military intervention in Syria remains remote, despite all the tough talk.
Such action is unlikely to get the support of either the UN Security Council or the Arab League, and outside intervention without the blessing of both of those bodies is all but unthinkable. And there is little appetite among the NATO countries - of which the U.S.¬ is the largest - for another war in the Middle East.