Ankara (Turkey): In what seems to be his rudest reaction till date, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Tuesday lashed out at Syria over downing of its fighter jet, saying Turkey’s “wrath is as much violent and crushing."
Erdogan also hinted at a possible military action in future if any Syrian element approached Turkish border.
"The rules of engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have changed," Erdogan said. "Any military element that approaches the Turkish border from Syria by posing a security risk and danger will be regarded as a threat and treated as a military target."
Responding to Syria, in his fiercest tone so far, Erdogan said, "Everybody should know that Turkey's wrath is just as strong and devastating as its friendship is valuable."
"Our rational response should not be perceived as weakness, our mild manners do not mean we are a tame lamb," he said.
"No one should be deceived by our cold blooded stance," Erdogan said.
Relation between Turkey and Syria, once allies, have already been on the rocks with Assad dismissing Erdogan’s advice of allowing democratic reforms.
Turkey has repeatedly called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to step down as 33,000 Syrians have sought refuge in Turkey, fleeing a government crackdown on a popular uprising.
Tensions soared since last Friday when a Turkish fighter jet Phantom 4 was shot down by Syria.
Syria insists that the Turkish plane violated its air space on Friday. But Turkey says that although the unarmed RF-4E reconnaissance jet had unintentionally strayed into Syria's air space, it was inside international airspace when it was brought down.
Erdogan said Syria shot down the unarmed plane in international airspace in a 'deliberate' and 'hostile' act and without warning. He said border violations in the region were not uncommon. He said Syrian helicopters violated Turkish airspace five times recently, without Turkish response.
The head of the NATO military alliance called the downing of the jet unacceptable today, shortly after Turkey briefed NATO's North Atlantic Council in discussions held under Article 4 of NATO's founding treaty, which allows a NATO member to request consultations if its security has been threatened.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said the alliance condemns it "in the strongest terms," and expressed solidarity with Turkey, but made no mention of retaliatory action.
He said, "We will continue to be a burning torment for circles who have adopted a hostile attitude toward Turkey."
With Agency Inputs
First Published: Tuesday, June 26, 2012, 22:17