Nato condemns Syria plane attack


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The Independent Online

Nato today condemned Syria's disregard of "peace, security and human life" in a statement expressing solidarity with Turkey over the shooting down of one of its reconnaissance planes.

"We consider this act to be unacceptable and condemn it in the strongest terms," said a statement from the ambassadors of the 28 Nato nations after emergency talks called by Turkey at Nato headquarters near Brussels

Nato secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the talks had been held under Article 4 of Nato's founding treaty, which says that the allies are consulted when one of them feels that their "territorial integrity, political independence or security" is threatened.

But he emphasised that the incident over the Mediterranean - which Turkey says was a deliberate attack - was not discussed under Article 5.

The difference is crucial because Article 5, which states that an attack on one Nato member is considered an attack against all, opens the door for possible military retaliation.

Mr Fogh Rasmussen said: "The allies have expressed strong support for and solidarity with Turkey.

"My clear expectation is that the situation won't continue to escalate. What we have seen is a completely unacceptable act and I would expect Syria to take all necessary steps to avoid such an event in the future."

He added: "Let me make this clear - the security of the alliance is indivisible. We stand together with Turkey in a spirit of strong solidarity."

Today's two-hour discussion considered briefings about the circumstances of the Syrian attack on the Turkish plane and produced a unanimous statement declaring: "We consider this act to be unacceptable and condemn it in the strongest terms. It is another example of the Syrian authorities' disregard for international norms of peace and security and human life.

"Our thoughts at this difficult time are with the missing Turkish aircrew and their loved ones.

"We continue to follow the situation closely and with great concern. Nato allies will remain seized of developments on the south-eastern border of Nato."

Answering questions, the Nato secretary-general insisted: "I certainly expect that such an incident won't happen again.

"Should anything happen, the allies will remain seized of developments. We will closely monitor the situation and, if necessary, we will consult and discuss what else can be done."

The Turkish reconnaissance jet was flying over Syria's coastline on Friday when it was shot down, crashing into the sea just inside international waters. Its two pilots have not been found.