NATO condemns Syria’s attack on Turkish aircraft
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization and Turkey jointly condemned Syria yesterday for allegedly shooting down a Turkish aircraft over international airspace.
“We consider this act to be unacceptable and condemn it in the strongest terms. It is another example of the Syrian authorities’ disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life,” said NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen following an emergency meeting requested by Turkey.
Turkish officials said that Syrian forces shot down an unarmed RF-4 aircraft during a “test and training mission” approximately 13 miles off the coast of Latakia on June 22. The shooting was unprovoked and happened “without any warning,” claimed Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
“This aggressive act, which runs against all the principles of good faith and good neighborliness, is a flagrant and grave violation of international law,” according to a written statement issued by the Ministry. “The Government of Turkey reserves all its rights emanating from international law to take counter measures and steps with regard to its pilots and aircraft that are still missing in action, at a time and basis of its own choosing.”
Syria refuted Turkey’s accusations, countering that the Turkish aircraft violated Syrian airspace. Syria maintained that it had acted “according to the laws that govern such situations”, the BBC reported.
The attack has increased tension in the region. However, despite the strong condemnations, it seems unlikely that NATO or Turkey will take military action against Syria at this time.
Although Syria and Turkey were once allies, relations between two countries have worsened since the ‘Arab Spring’-inspired uprising against Syrian President Bashar al Assad.
The violence in Syria has killed more than 10,000 people, mostly civilians, since March 2011, according to the United Nations. Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled to neighboring Turkey as Assad’s forces stepped up their brutal crackdowns and a cease-fire deal brokered by U.N. Special Envoy Kofi Annan broke down within weeks.
Previous U.N. efforts to take stronger actions against Syria have been stymied by China and Russia as each hold a veto vote in the Security Council.
- Turkey’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs: Press Release Regarding the Steps Taken by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Turkey in Respect of the Shooting Down of a Turkish Military Aircraft Off the Coast of Syria
- NATO.int: NATO Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen following the meeting of the North Atlantic Council on Syria’s shooting of a Turkish aircraft – June 26, 2012
- BBC.co.uk: Syria profile
- BBC.co.uk: Turkish F-4 warplane ‘shot down’ near Syrian border
- BBC.co.uk: Turkish warplane downed by Syria ‘may have crossed border’