ANKARAㅡ The Spokesperson for the Turkish government and Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc on Monday said that Turkey had no intention of going to war with anyone after one of its jets was shot down by Syria last week and said it would only act in accordance with international law.
“Whatever is needed to be done will definitely be done within the framework of international law. We have no intention of going to war with anyone. We have no such intent,” Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arınç told a news conference Turkey after a seven-hour cabinet meeting on the incident.
The unarmed RF-4E reconnaissance jet was shot down a mile (1.6 kilometers) inside international airspace on Friday, and two Turkish pilots are still missing, the Turkish government says.
Arınç, however, also underlined that Turkey will protect itself within international law and that Syria’s downing of jet will not go unpunished.
Arınç said Turkey won’t hesitate to take necessary steps within legitimate boundaries of international law, adding that Syria targeted “our solo-flying, unarmed plane with cold blood. International law stands by Turkey in the face of this hostile action.”
Arınç said Syrian air “elements” had violated Turkish air space five times “recently” but that the incidents had been settled peacefully.
He also underlined that seeking a parliamentary motion for cross-border military operation is not currently on government’s agenda and that there is no need for that. “We can appeal to Parliament if needed,” he stressed.
“It should be known that within legality we will of course use all rights granted under international law until the end,” Arınç said. “This also includes self-defense. This also includes retaliation many-fold. This includes all sanctions that can be applied to the aggressor state under international law. Turkey will not leave anything out on this issue. The public should be assured,” he added.
Arınç strongly denied Syrian claims that the downed plane was shot by anti-aircraft fire while flying low inside Syrian airspace. The Syrian government said on Monday said the plane was hit by a short-range anti-aircraft gun to prove that the plane was inside Syrian territory.
Arınç, however, said Turkey believed the plane was hit with a laser-guided or heat-guided missile – capable of hitting the plane in international 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 warnings from Turkish radar operators and that it received no warning from Syrian forces during its five-minute flight inside Syrian territory.
“It was hit while flying 13 miles away (from the Syrian coast) at an altitude of 7,400 feet,” Arınç said. “It leaned on its left side and fell steeply for four miles toward the east.”
Arınç said the plane crashed into Syrian waters and its wreckage is believed to be below 1,000 meters (3,280 feet).
Arınç also said Syria was misleading the world when it says its forces could not recognize the plane until after it was downed.
He said the plane’s electronic signals, which indicate if an aircraft is friend or foe, were activated during the entire flight and that Turkey even intercepted radio conversations in which Syrian forces referred to the plane. Arınç did not elaborate, but Turkish media, citing intelligence sources, said on Monday that Syrian forces referred to the plane using the Turkish word for “neighbor” – “komşu” -in an intercepted radio conversation.
Arınç 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,” Arınç said. “It was an extremely hostile action.” <Cihan>
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