Turkey PM Warns Syria Against Future Border Incidents
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday warned Syria against any aggressive activity at the long common border, alluding that Turkey will retaliate at any perceived provocative action against it, following an incident last Friday, when a Turkish air jet was shot down by the Syrian anti-aerial missiles in the waters of the Mediterranean.
The tone of the Prime Minister, The New York Times reports, was unchanged as compared to the last days, when the Turkish authorities threatened to retaliate for the downing of their plane, which they considered an aggressive action, especially since, in their opinion, it was the result of an honest mistake made by the Turkish pilots.
On Monday, the Turkish Foreign Minister explained that the pilots, whose whereabouts have not been determined after all these days, had been warned by the Turkish military that they entered Syrian water space and advised to leave and that they left and were in the international waters at the time when they were shot down from the sky.
Some wreckage of the jet has been recovered, the Turkish officials announced, but not the pilots. The president of Turkey last Saturday explained that this kind of accidents happens every day in the world but that the jets which trespass do not get shot down.
The Turkish authorities complained that no procedure in this case was observed, that is their plane was not warned by the Syrian army, nor was it escorted out of Syrian space by Syrian air forces.
The incident was condemned by many world leaders, including the United States State Department, which urged the Turks to exercise caution in responding to the Syrian neighbor.
Turkey invoked on Monday the Article 4 of the NATO charter, which allows the consultations between the 28 members of the North Atlantic Council, the governing body of the organization.
After the emergency talks held in Brussels on Monday, NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said that NATO considers the downing of the Turkish jet by the Syrian aviation as “unacceptable.”
NATO issued a unanimous statement in which it says that the downing episode is another example of “Syrian authorities disregarding international norms, peace and security and human life.”
NATO chief said he was expecting such actions not to reoccur and that the organization will follow closely the developments in Syria and will convene and decide what to do if something like this happens again.
The Turkish PM in Ankara said that his country’s army has revised the rules of engagement toward Syria and that all military elements approaching the Turkish border will be treated as military targets, if Turkey considers them a risk to its security, or that they pose any danger.
The premier has asked the Syrian authorities not to test Turkish determination and wisdom. Erdogan said that “at a time, place and method” Turkey will decide how to make use of its rights which derive from the international law and take firmly action against the injustice it was submitted to.
Erdogan added that the Turkish authorities will continue to support the rebel fighting against the regime and will offer the “Syrian brothers” the entire backing until the “cruel dictator” is removed from power.
The NATO officials used this incident to ascertain Syria’s capacity to respond to an aerial raid on its territories. NATO compared this capacity to the one offered by Libya last year, probably in the view of a possible no-fly zone imposed on the Syrian territory. No decision has been made by international decision-making bodies as to a possible intervention in Syria, in spite of a surge of violence in the country which has been embattled by a popular uprising for the last 16 months.
On Monday, the Syrian authorities said that the wreckage of the ship shows holes produced by machine guns, which gives the Syrians ground to argue that the plane was hovering over the Syrian land, not over the international waters.11