Syria insists downed Turkish plane was 'not an attack'
This week NATO leaders will decide how to respond to Syria's downing of a Turkish jet, which Turkey argues was in international airspace.
(Page 2 of 3)
It's unlikely the downing of the Turkish plane will change those calculations, despite Ankara's appeal for the NATO meeting.Skip to next paragraph
In Pictures Life in the Syria-Turkey border
Subscribe Today to the Monitor
In October 1989, two Syrian MiG-21s violated Turkish air space and shot down a Turkish plane on a geographical survey mission, killing all five crew members. Syria at the time promised to severely punish the pilots, who disregarded Turkish orders not to enter Turkish airspace.
Dogu Ergil, a professor of political science at the Ankara University, told private NTV television that Turkey had repeatedly sent its jets across the Syrian border for several weeks to show its military muscle at the time.
Turkey has been one of the most vociferous critics of Syrian President Bashar Assad's regime as it has cracked down over the past 15 months on an increasingly armed popular uprising. Opposition activists say the conflict has killed 14,000 people, most of them civilians.
The plane's downing has already drawn international criticism from other countries pushing Assad to stop his crackdown.
British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Sunday he was "gravely concerned by the Syrian regime's action in shooting down" the plane and that Davutoglu had told him no warning was given.
"This outrageous act underlines how far beyond accepted behavior the Syrian regime has put itself, and I condemn it wholeheartedly," Hague said in a statement. "The Assad regime should not make the mistake of believing that it can act with impunity. It will be held to account for its behavior."
Hague met last week with United Nations and Arab League special envoy Kofi Annan for talks on plans for an international summit, while British officials discussed the issue in Geneva on Saturday with members of Annan's team. Hague noted Sunday that "The UK stands ready to pursue robust action at the United Nations Security Council."
Italy's foreign minister decried the shooting down of the plane as "a further, very grave and unacceptable action by the Assad regime." In a written statement, Giulio Terzi promised that Italy will play an active role in the NATO meeting Tuesday.
Syrian activists reported violence in different parts of the country Sunday, saying nearly 40 people were killed.