Turkey’s government has held an emergency security meeting after one of its fighter jets was shot down by Syrian forces over the Mediterranean Sea.
The F-4 fighter jet disappeared off the radar just near the Syrian border. Syria’s military says the aircraft was flying low, well inside Syrian territorial waters, when it was shot down.
“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,” a statement by the military circulated on state media said.
With the second biggest army in NATO, a force hardened by nearly 30 years of fighting Kurdish rebels, Turkey would be a formidable foe for the Syrian army which is already struggling to put down a 16-month-old revolt.
But Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been measured in his response to the incident. He says Turkish and Syrian forces are working together to search for the two missing crew of the aircraft. Mr Erdogan says Syria has already apologised and admitted it was a mistake.
“The other side have expressed regret,” he said.
The Turkish army immediately called an emergency summit of top military, intelligence and high-level government officials. Mr Erdogan is returning home from Brazil to attend an emergency summit of security and government chiefs.
“Turkey will present its final stance after the incident has been fully brought to light and decisively take the necessary steps,” Mr Erdogan said.
He says the fate of the plane is still unknown and has promised a decisive response once all the facts are known