Syria Shoots Down NATO-Member Turkey's Military F-4 Jet

Tyler Durden's picture

Update 4 from the BBC: getting warmer in here.

Turkey's government has called an emergency security meeting amid reports that one of its fighter jets was shot down by Syrian security forces.

 

The Turkish military earlier said it had lost contact with an F-4 Phantom over the Mediterranean Sea on Friday morning, south-west of Hatay province.

 

It did not confirm reports that Syrian air defence forces were responsible.

 

But local media are quoting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying "the other side have expressed regret".

 

Mr Erdogan also revealed that the two crew members were safe.

 

Relations between Turkey and Syria, once close allies, have deteriorated sharply since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.

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Witnesses in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia meanwhile told BBC Arabic that Syrian air defences had shot down an unidentified aircraft near the town of Ras al-Basit.

 

There was no immediate confirmation from Turkish officials, but later it was announced that Mr Erdogan would be holding an emergency meeting with his top military and intelligence chiefs to discuss the missing plane.

 

Mr Erdogan was also said to have told Turkish reporters on a flight back from Brazil that "the other side have expressed regret" over the downing of the F-4, and also that the pilots had been recovered.

Update 3: they are making it up as they go along:

  • TURKISH PM SAYS HAS NO FIRM INFORMATION ON ANY APOLOGY FROM SYRIA, WILL MAKE FURTHER STATEMENT AFTER SECURITY MEETING
  • TURKISH PM SAYS CANNOT SAY WHETHER TURKISH WARPLANE SHOT DOWN OR CRASHED, NO NEWS ON PILOTS - TURKISH TV

Looks like everyone is trying to position appropriately.

Update 2 from Syria: Oops, sorry.

Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday that Syria had admitted it shot down a Turkish warplane in the Mediterranean and that Damascus had apologized.

 

The two pilots of the Turkish F-4 fighter jet are alive, Erdogan had earlier said, before holding a press conference in Ankara.

 

“At this moment the air force and navy are conducting search and rescue operations in the western Mediterranean and luckily our pilots are alive, we have just lost a plane,” he told journalists while travelling back from Brazil.

 

Earlier, the Turkish army said it lost radar and radio contact with one of its aircrafts on the Mediterranean near neighboring Syria, and a television station said it had crashed in Syrian territorial waters.

 

But Lebanon’s Hezbollah-owned Al-Manar television station said that Syrian air defenses shot down the Turkish military aircraft, quoting Syrian security sources.

 

“Syrian security sources confirmed to a Manar correspondent in Damascus that Syrian defense forces shot down the Turkish fighter jet,” the Hezbollah-owned channel said.

 

Turkey, which had drawn close to Syria before the uprising against Assad, became one of the Syrian leader’s fiercest critics when he responded violently to pro-democracy protests inspired by popular upheavals elsewhere in the Arab world.

 

Ankara has previously floated the possibility of setting up some kind of safe haven or humanitarian corridor inside Syria, which would entail military intervention, but has said it would undertake no such action without U.N. Security Council approval.

 

Turkey said it had lost contact with one of its military aircraft off its southeastern coast, and a television station said it had crashed in Syrian territorial waters.

 

The plane took off from Malatya airbase in the southeast at 0730 GMT and lost communication with the base at 0858 GMT in the southwest of the Hatay province bordering Syria, the military command said in a statement posted online.

 

“Search and rescue efforts have started immediately,” it said.

Update from Al Jazeera: Turkish PM says cannot say whether Turkish warplane shot down or crashed, no news on pilots.

Just when the geopolitical tensions in the middle east appeared to be abating, and Brent was on a gentle glideslope to whatever price will greenlight the NEW QE now that fears of an Iran war have been very much silenced, things change. Reuters reports that Syria shot down a Turkish warplane on Friday, according to Lebanon's al-Manar television reported, "risking a new crisis between Middle Eastern neighbours already at bitter odds over a 16-month-old revolt against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad." "Syrian security sources confirmed to a Manar correspondent in Damascus that Syrian defence forces shot down the Turkish fighter jet," the Hezbollah-owned channel said."

Here is the rub: Turkey is a NATO member, and by definition the alliance will have to come to Turkey's aid if requested. Syria, however is not just any country as has been made quite clear over the past several months of UN impotence: it is a critical staging ground for both Russia (which has a very critical regional naval base in the city of Tartus) and China, and according to the Jerusalem Post, the three countries are in preparation to conduct the "largest ever" war game. As such Syria, already gripped by fierce local fighting, where just like in Egypt and Libya the presence of US-based flipflop on the ground can be smelt from across the Atlantic, is merely a symbol. The real implication is how far can little escalations push until finally the showdown begins, with NATO on one side and Russia and China on the other?

From Reuters:

Turkey, which had drawn close to Syria before the uprising against Assad, became one of the Syrian leader's fiercest critics when he responded violently to pro-democracy protests inspired by popular upheavals elsewhere in the Arab world.

 

Ankara has previously floated the possibility of setting up some kind of safe haven or humanitarian corridor inside Syria, which would entail military intervention, but has said it would undertake no such action without U.N. Security Council approval.

 

Turkey said it had lost contact with one of its military aircraft off its south-eastern coast, and a television station said it had crashed in Syrian territorial waters.

 

CNN Turk television said Turkey was in contact with the Syrian authorities to get permission to conduct a search for the airmen, although there was no immediate official confirmation.

 

Turkey's military said a search and rescue operation was under way. It lost radar and radio contact with the plane after it left Erhac airport in the eastern province of Malatya.

 

Two crew were aboard the F-4 jet, Turkish state news agency Anatolia said, citing Malatya governor Ulvi Saran.

 

Hurriyet daily newspaper reported that the plane had gone down in international waters and that the two airmen had been found alive and well by Turkish forces.

Be on the lookout for the official Turkish response: it may not happy. Especially if this is merely the latest variation on a very old false flag theme, or merely media manipulation seeking to inflame tensions and incite a Syrian invasion.

And for those wondering, yes, the F-4 still exists, and more shockingly, it still flies.