Recep Tayyip Erdogan
Recep Tayyip Erdogan Photo by Reuters
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Turkey still doesn't know what happened to an F4 air force plane that disappeared in the east Mediterranean off the Syrian coast earlier Friday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told a press conference.

"We've lost a plane and as yet we don't have any information as to what happened and whether it was brought down," he said

"We are working together with the Syrians on search-and-rescue operations," he said, adding that there was also no information on what had happened to the two pilots.

Erdogan denied reports that quoted him as stating that Syria had admitted to and apologized for bringing down the missing plane.

"I have received no such information," he said.

He declined to answer questions on why the plane had been operating close to the Syrian coastline.

Erdogan was to meet with military officials for a more detailed briefing.

Earlier Friday, Turkey's state news agency Anatolian reported that an F4 fighter plane carrying two pilots disappeared close to the Syrian coast.

The plane took off from a military airfield at Malatya in the south-east at 10:30 am (0730 GMT) and lost radar and radio contact with its base when it was over the Mediterranean Sea west of the Syrian coast.

Anatolian referred to the plane as being "on duty," but gave no details of the operation it was undertaking at the time of its disappearance.

The report quoted the military high command as stating that search-and-rescue operations were under way.

Turkey's Zaman newspaper reported that the plane was only 12 kilometres from the Syrian coast when it disappeared.