Turkish military aircraft crashes in Syria (updated)

Posted Jun 22, 2012 by Anne Sewell
According to media reports, a Turkish military aircraft has crashed in Syria. The aircraft appears to have been shot down and the two pilots have been rescued.
F-4 Phantom aircraft.
F-4 Phantom aircraft.
Video screen capture
Lebanon-based Al-Mayadeen TV is reporting that the plane went down as Syrian air defense opened fire.
In other unconfirmed reports, it has been said that Syria had shot at two Turkish fighter jets that entered Syrian airspace.
Ihab Sultan, a local journalist in Syria, told RT, “Witnesses spotted two jets flying in from Turkish territory. One of the planes went down in Syria’s territorial waters, while the other one made off despite being damaged.”
However, official sources only confirm that an aircraft crashed over the Mediterranean Sea off the south eastern province of Hatay, bordering on Syria.
Turkey’s state-run news agency said “two pilots were on board of a military jet that disappeared on radar over the Mediterranean Sea in the south-west of the southern province of Hatay after departing from Malatya-Erhac air base at 10:30.”
After the Turkish military lost radar and radio contact with the plane, a search and rescue operation was launched at 11:38 am local time.
The Turkish daily Hurriyet reports two pilots have been rescued by Turkish helicopters from the water.
The planes apparently took off from Erhac Airport in the eastern province of Malatya to take part in ongoing war-games.
RT reports that Turkish Prime Minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan could not yet confirm that the military plane was shot down by Syria. Reports had been received that Damascus had apologized for shooting down the aircraft, but Erdogan cannot confirm that.
Erdogan said: "The chief of general staff has made the necessary statement about the missing plane. I am not saying it was brought down at the point it fell. It is not possible to say this without knowing the exact facts."
He did, however, confirm that the plane went down around eight miles (13km) from the Syrian town of Latakia over the Mediterranean Sea. The aircraft was apparently hit by a missile fired by the Syrian defense system.
Erdogan also did not share any information about the fate of the two pilots, who were reportedly rescued earlier today.
Further statements are expected to be received after a security meeting.
Turkey's open support of the Syrian opposition, which seeks to topple Assad's government, has marred relations between Ankara and Damascus. On Friday, Turkey reportedly denied the Syrian government's accusations that it is supplying arms to rebels. Assad's government condemned this statement as "provocative."
Turkey called on NATO in April to protect its borders, as cross-border fire from Syria had hit a refugee camp in Turkish territory.
International relations expert Mark Almond, at Bilkent University in Ankara, said that in the event of a NATO intervention scenario, Turkey might possibly launch a flight probe to assess Syria's capabilities.
He told RT, “If the NATO countries were really thinking of some kind of intervention to assist the rebels against Assad’s regime, the first thing they’ll want to do is to knock out Syria’s air forces and defense systems. So some kind of a probing flight testing Syria’s responses would be possible. But it is also possible this is a tragic mishap.”
The video above states that Syria is ready to protect the sovereignty of their country from any possible attacks.