Turkish warplane has been shot down by Syria (UPDATE)


Turkish jets parade during the Victory Day celebrations, in Ankara on August 30, 2011. An F-4 Phantom jet went missing on June 22, 2012 over the Mediterranean Sea near Turkey's border with Syria. It is unclear whether it crashed or was shot down.



Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told reporters on Friday that Syria had shot down a warplane that was flying over the region, Reuters reported

The warplane went missing near Syria early Friday was brought down by Syrian forces, Erdogan said in a statement following a two-hour security meeting, CBS News reported. The statement also said that Turkey "will determinedly take necessary steps" in response, without specifying what those would be. 

The Turkish military aircraft disappeared over the eastern Mediterranean close to the border with Syria, and the plane's two Turkish pilots remain missing, according to CBS News.

Turkish and Syrian coast guard ships are currently searching for the crew, according to BBC News

When asked about whether the incident would create a crisis between Turkey and Syria, Erdogan said, "We will see," according to The Financial Times.

In a statement, the military said it had lost radio and radar contact with the plane after it took off from an airbase in the province of Malatya on Friday morning, according to Reuters. Malayta governor Ulvi Saran told Turkey’s state-run Anatolia news agency that two pilots were onboard the F-4 jet, Reuters reported.

Hurriyet newspaper, as cited by the Associated Press, reported that the plane crashed into international waters off the Syrian coast. But witnesses in Syria’s northern town of Latakia told the BBC that Syrian air defenses had shot at and brought down an unidentified plane near the town of Ras al-Baseet.

The BBC also said Erdogan was quoted as saying, "The other side have expressed regret," making it unclear whether Syria had accepted responsibility for the crash.

Tensions between the countries have escalated during the 15-month uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, with Turkey hosting 32,000 Syrian refugees and allowing the Syrian Free Army to operate from its territory, said Reuters.

A military search and rescue operation is currently under way.

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