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Syrian downing of Turkish plane: a hostile act? (+video)

Syria brought down a Turkish plane with two pilots aboard. Questions remain about the incident and the Turkish response. Leaders say, "Turkey cannot endure it in silence."

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Turkey said after an April border shooting incident — in which two people in a Turkish refugee camp died— that it would call on its NATO allies to intervene should it feel its security was being threatened.

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Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu met with military officials Saturday to assess what steps to take and to coordinate the search and rescue operation for the two missing pilots and the plane's wreckage, the Foreign Ministry said. The minister also met with Erdogan, but there was no announcement made after either of the meetings.

A Turkish official familiar with the meeting said Turkey was examining the plane's radar route and other flight data to ascertain whether the aircraft was flying over Syrian territory when it was shot down. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief journalists and would provide no further details.

On Friday, Syria said its forces shot down a Turkish military plane that had entered its airspace. The plane, an unarmed F-4, went down in the Mediterranean Sea about 8 miles (13 kilometers) from the Syrian town of Latakia, Turkey said.

In Baghdad, Iraqi Foreign Minister Hoshyar Zebari said Saturday that the recent defection of a Syrian pilot to Jordan and the downing of the Turkish jet showed that the Syrian conflict could have far-reaching repercussions.

"Our main concern is the spillover of the crisis into neighborhood countries. No country is immune from this spillover," he said. "If this conflict were to turn into all-out sectarian or civil war, Iraq would be affected, Lebanon would be affected, Jordan would not be immune, (and) Turkey could be (affected)."

German Foreign Minister Guido Westerwelle said he was "greatly worried" by the incident, urged a thorough investigation and welcomed Turkey's cool-headed reaction in the incident's immediate aftermath.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon was following the situation closely and hoped the incident would be "handled with restraint by both sides through diplomatic channels," a spokesman said.

The Turkish government said the aircraft was a reconnaissance plane, not a fighter jet. Gul said it is "routine" for such jets flying at high-speeds to unintentionally violate other countries' air spaces for short periods of time. "Was that the case, or did (the incident) occur in our own air space? These facts will emerge," he said.

Syria claimed the jet violated its air space over territorial waters, penetrating about 1 kilometer (0.62 mile). It said Syrian forces only realized it was a Turkish jet after firing at it.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc and other government ministers urged restraint. "We must remain calm and collected," he said. "We must not give premium to any provocative speeches and acts."

The leader of Turkey's main opposition party, Kemal Kilicdaroglu, said the downing of the plane was unacceptable, but he also urged calm.

"All diplomatic channels must be kept open. We are expecting a coolheaded assessment of the incident," he said.

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