Turkish jet was downed in Syrian airspace, U.S. officials indicate

June 30, 2012 - 17:07 AMT


PanARMENIAN.Net - U.S. intelligence indicates that a Turkish warplane
shot down by Syrian forces was most likely hit by shore-based
antiaircraft guns while it was inside Syrian airspace, American
officials said, a finding in tune with Syria's account and at odds
with Turkey, The Wall Street Journal reports.

The Turkish government, which moved tanks to the Syrian border after
the June 22 incident, says the debris fell in Syrian waters, but
maintains its fighter was shot down without warning in international
airspace. Ankara also has said the jet was hit too far from Syrian
territory to have been engaged by an antiaircraft gun.

Damascus has said it shot down the plane with an antiaircraft battery
with an effective range of about 1.5 miles.

"We see no indication that it was shot down by a surface-to-air
missile" as Turkey says, said a senior defense official. Officials
declined to specify the sources of their information. The senior U.S.
defense official cautioned that much remains unknown about the
incident.

A Turkish official said he wasn't aware of the American doubts, and
reiterated the government's position that a Syrian missile downed the
plane in international airspace.

The downing of the jet spurred fears of a widening regional conflict
and led the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, following a
presentation by Turkey, to condemn Syria's action.

The use of antiaircraft fire would suggest the Turkish plane was
flying low to the ground, and slowly, U.S. officials said - though
Syria said the jet was traveling at 480 miles an hour. If hit by
antiaircraft fire, the jet likely came closer to the Syrian shoreline
than Turkey says, U.S. officials said.

According to the Journal, some current and former American officials
believe Ankara has been testing Syrian defenses. The version of the
Turkish F-4 Phantom that was shot down typically carries surveillance
equipment, according to U.S. defense officials.

A former senior U.S. official who worked closely with Turkey said he
believed the flight's course was meant to test Syria's response. "You
think that the airplane was there by mistake?" the former official
said.

"These countries are all testing how fast they get picked up and how
fast someone responds," said a senior U.S. official. "It's part of
training."


From: Baghdasarian