NATO envoys to discuss Syria's downing of Turkish jet

Turkey will brief NATO's governing body on the downing by Syria of a Turkish reconnaissance plane over the Mediterranean Sea, officials said Tuesday.

hidden June 26, 2012 13:53:52 IST
NATO envoys to discuss Syria's downing of Turkish jet

Brussels: Turkey will brief NATO's governing body on the downing by Syria of a Turkish reconnaissance plane over the Mediterranean Sea, officials said Tuesday.

The discussions will be held under Article 4 of NATO's founding treaty, which allows a NATO member, in this case Turkey, to request consultations if its security has been threatened, officials and diplomats said.

On Monday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Ankara would request that the incident be considered under Article 5, which states that an attack against one NATO member shall be considered an attack against all members and would possibly allow for NATO military retaliation.

But diplomats and officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the alliance's standing rules, said Turkey had formally requested that the incident is discussed under Article 4.

NATO envoys to discuss Syrias downing of Turkish jet

The NATO headquarters. AP

The RF-4E reconnaissance jet was overflying the Syrian coastline on Friday when it was shot down. It crashed into the sea a mile (1.6 kilometers) inside international waters. The two pilots are still missing.

Syria said the downing was an accident, caused by the "automatic response" of an officer commanding an anti-aircraft position who saw an unidentified jet flying at high speed and low altitude.

Diplomats said the 28 ambassadors who make up the North Atlantic Council will discuss Turkey's concerns and would likely condemn the downing, but refrain from military action.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has repeatedly said that the alliance would need a clear international mandate, and regional support, before it embarked on a mission in Syria. Last year, NATO launched air attacks on Libyan government targets only after receiving such a mandate from the U.N. Security Council, along with backing from the Arab League.

But in Syria's case, the Arab League hasn't been able to agree on the need for military intervention. And Russia and China — both veto-wielding members of the Security Council — have consistently shielded Assad's regime from international sanctions over its violent crackdown on protests. They have called on neighbouring countries to refrain from provocative actions that could spark a wider war.

AP

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