Syria Shoots Down Turkish Fighter Jet

Downed plane further frays poor Syria-Turkey relations
By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 23, 2012 5:13 AM CDT
Syria Shoots Down Turkish Fighter Jet
Turkey Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan talking to the Alliance of Civilizations in Istanbul, Turkey, on May 31, 2012.   (AP Photo)

Syria confirmed this morning that it did shoot down a Turkish F-4 fighter jet yesterday, saying it was flying low and well inside Syrian airspace, reports the BBC. Turkey has not said yet whether it considers the incident provocative, and much could depend on whether the plane's crew survived. Turkey-Syrian relations have deteriorated badly since the Syrian uprising began 15 months ago. But with Turkey being a NATO member, should the shooting down of the Turkish jet be considered an attack, it could ramp up pressure for the West to get militarily involved in Syria, notes the AFP.

So far, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has had a measured response to the shooting, promising he would "decisively take the necessary steps" after the facts were clear. But Turkey has already allowed a command center for the Free Syrian Army to be set up in Istanbul, staffed by 22 people who are mostly Syrian nationals, and is helping to funnel a variety of weapons to rebel forces, reports the Guardian. Saudi Arabia has also reportedly offered to pay salaries for the Syrian Free Army, in an attempt to encourage further defections from the Syrian military. In addition, there was a report yesterday of rebels killing 26 government supporters on Thursday, which the Syrian government called a "massacre." (More Syria stories.)

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