Tensions rise as Syria admits it shot down Turkish fighter jet

 

Turkey said that Syria had shot down one of its military planes over the eastern Mediterranean as a search and rescue operation was still underway late last night to find the aircraft's missing pilots.

The shooting of the fighter jet was confirmed in a late-night statement from the Syrian military, carried on the state-run news agency Sana and saying that the aircraft was shot down over Syrian waters.

"Our air defences confronted a target that penetrated our air space over our territorial waters pre-afternoon on Friday and shot it down. It turned out to be a Turkish military plane," the statement said.

While the Syrian statement appeared at pains to indicate that the anti-aircraft strike was ordered without it being known that the aircraft was Turkish, the incident is likely to add to the already serious tensions between the two countries. Turkey has called for President Bashar al-Assad to step down, is sheltering 32,000 Syrian refugees and its eastern region is a conduit for arms to rebels forces.

The alarm had been raised earlier when the F-4 jet which had taken off from an military base in eastern Turkey with a crew of two aboard dropped out of radio contact. Syrian vessels appear to have joined the search operation.

A statement issued last night by the office Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan after a meeting he held with his cabinet and military chiefs said: "As a result of information obtained from the evaluation of our concerned institutions and from within the joint search and rescue operations with Syria, it is understood that our plane was brought down by Syria."

The statement added that Turkey would decide on its response to the incident once all of the details became clear. It was not immediately clear whether earlier reports that Syria had apologised for the crash were true.

Amid a series of conflicting reports over the fate of the F-4 jet, which took off from Erhac airbase in eastern Turkey yesterday morning, there had been earlier, unconfirmed suggestions that it had been shot down by Syrian air defences.

This claim was made by the Lebanon-based pro-Iranian Al-Mayadeen television station. The BBC said that eye-witnesses in the northern Syrian town of Latakia had earlier told its Arabic service that Syrian air defences shot down an unidentified aircraft near the town of Ras al-Baseet.

The aircraft vanished as Syrian opposition activists said rebels had killed 26 members of a mainly Alawite militia loyal to President Assad and the Russian foreign minister Sergei Lavrov said he had urged Syria to do a "lot more" to implement a UN peace plan.

Turkey's state-run TRT television had said earlier that the Turkish coast guard, reinforced from the air by helicopters and a plane, were searching the area and that three Syrian vessels joined it.

Mr Lavrov indicated after talks with his Syrian counterpart, Walid al-Moualem, Syria was prepared to withdraw its forces from cities in line with former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan's plan provided the "armed opposition" did likewise.

News
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Maths Teacher

£110 - £200 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Secondary Maths Teacher for spe...

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?