NATO to discuss downing of Turkish plane by Syria Jetâ€™s wreckage found in Mediterranean at a depth of 4,265 ft
Posted on 11 months ago
ANKARA (AP): NATO leaders will meet this week to discuss how and whether to respond to Syria’s downing of a Turkish jet in what Turkey insists was international airspace.
The incident has spiked regional tensions caused by the conflict in Syria, where reports on Sunday said more than a dozen people died in new clashes between rebels and regime forces.
The jet’s wreckage was found in the Mediterranean at a depth of 4,265 feet (1,300 meters), Turkey’s state-run Anadolu Agency said Sunday. The two pilots remain unaccounted for.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the jet was on a training flight to test Turkey’s radar capabilities, not spying on Syria. He said the plane mistakenly strayed into Syrian airspace Friday, but was quickly warned to leave by Turkish authorities and was a mile inside international airspace when it was shot down off the coast of Latakia.
Syria insisted Saturday that the shooting was “not an attack” and that the aircraft had violated its airspace.
Oana Lungescu, a NATO spokesman, said Sunday that at the request of Turkey, the alliance’s governing body will meet Tuesday to discuss the incident. The consultations will focus on article 4 of NATO’s founding Washington Treaty
“Under article 4, any ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened,” Lungescu said. The North Atlantic Council — the ambassadors of the 28 NATO countries — will decide whether to respond, she said.
The last time article 4 was invoked was nine years ago — also by Turkey — after tensions with neighboring Iraq escalated. However, that case did not lead to the invocation of article 5, which declares that an attack against any single NATO country shall be considered as an attack against them all.
Turkey has been one of the most vociferous critics of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime as it has cracked down on an increasingly armed popular uprising. Opposition activists say the conflict has killed 14,000 people, most of them civilians, over the past 15 months.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who discussed the plane’s downing with leaders of opposition parties in Parliament on Sunday, was expected to make a statement on Tuesday, Davutoglu said.
The plane’s downing has already drawn international criticism from other countries pushing Assad to stop his crackdown.