Daily Israel Report

Syria May Have Mistaken Turkish Jet for Israeli One

The downing of a Turkish fighter plane by Syria may have been a case of mistaken identity, a Syrian minister says amid rising tensions.
By Gabe Kahn
First Publish: 6/27/2012, 10:09 PM

Israeli F-16i (Illustration Only)
Israeli F-16i (Illustration Only)
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A Syrian minister on Wednesday was quoted as saying his country's forces may have mistaken the Turkish plane they shot down for an Israeli one.

Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoebi told the Turkish news channel A Haber in a telephone interview that Damascus did "not want a crisis between Turkey and Syria."

Al-Zoebi said Turkish and Israeli fighter jets were mostly US-made, which may have led the Syrian forces to mistake it for an Israeli jet.

However, military observers note that Israel retired its last F-4 Phantom jet – the type of jet shot down by Syria –- in 2004.  

Turkey warned Syria on Tuesday to keep its troops away from the countries' troubled border or risk an armed response, an angry reply to the downing of the Turkish reconnaissance plane last week.

The warning came after Turkey deployed its own forces along its Syrian frontier on Wednesday.

However, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan clearly stated on Wednesday that Ankara had no intention of attacking Syria.

The statement was a clear drawing back from bellicose rhetoric earlier in the week, wherin Erdogan clearly defined Syria as an enemy and warned of consequences over the downing of the Turkish jet.

Analysts say both nations, former allies whose relations have progressively soured as Syrias ongoing 'Arab Spring' revolt has drawn out, are seeking ways to reduce potentially dangerous tensions.

UN officials say Syrian president Bashar al-Assad's bloody crackdown on the now-16 month popular uprising against his regime has killed some 10,000 people, mostly civilians.

Diplomats, however, say the actual number is likely much higher.

Meanwhile, UN special envoy Kofi Annan has invited the five major powers – Britain, France, China, Russia and the United States – as well as Turkey, the European Union, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar to a round-table discussion on the Syria crisis.

The call came just one day after Assad told his newly sworn on cabinet that Syria was at war with its own citizens.

“When we're in a state of war, all of our politics has to be concentrated on winning this war," he said of the popular-uprising-turned-civil-war rocking Damascus.