Assad regrets shooting down Turkish Jet



Assad regrets shooting down Turkish Jet Zeenews Bureau

Ankara: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has regretted that his country's defence forces shot down a Turkish fighter jet on June 22, a Turkish newspaper claimed on Tuesday.

"The plane was flying in an air corridor used three times in the past by the Israeli Air Force," Assad said in an interview with the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet.

The newspaper also quoted Assad regretting the incident, which has further fuelled tensions between the two former allies - "100 percent".

The Syrian President however rejected Turkey's accusations that the Syrian defence forces intentionally shot down the Turkish F-4 jet, which was on a training mission over the Mediterranean.

"A country at war always acts like this, this plane was flying at a very low altitude and was shot down by anti-aircraft defences which mistook it for an Israeli plane, which attacked Syria in 2007."

He said the soldier who shot down the plane had no radar and could not know to which country the plane belonged.

Assad sent his condolences to the families of the two pilots of the downed plane, who have not been found.

"If this plane had been shot down in international airspace (as maintained by Ankara) we would not have hesitated to apologise," he said.

Turkey says Syrian forces downed its jet in international airspace after it briefly strayed into Syrian airspace June 22. Assad insists the plane was inside Syrian airspace and flying in a corridor that had been used by Israeli planes three times in the past.

Turkey responded by deploying anti-aircraft missiles on the Syrian border, and has scrambled its jets several times after it said its border was approached by Syrian forces.

With Agency Inputs