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Syrian president regrets shooting down of Turkish plane

Türkiye Materials 3 July 2012 11:48 (UTC +04:00)
Syrian president Bashar al-Assad says he regrets the destruction of the recently shot down Turkish aircraft.
Syrian president regrets shooting down of Turkish plane

Azerbaijan, Baku, July 3 / Trend A. Taghiyeva /

Syrian president Bashar al-Assad says he regrets the destruction of the recently shot down Turkish aircraft.

"Syrian armed forces thought it was an Israeli military aircraft rather than Turkish, but I have repeatedly said that I regret that the Turkish plane was shot down," Syrian President said in an interview with Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyyet today.

"Previously, Israeli planes have used that air route three times, the same one used by the Turkish aircraft," he said. "We have learned that the plane belonged to Turkey after it was shot down. I'm sorry about that."

The president said that if the Turkish plane was shot down in international airspace, Syria would have apologised to the Turkish side.

The president also stressed that Syria intends to normalise the relations with Turkey. However, the Turkish side's actions do not allow Damascus to take the concrete steps in this direction.

Regarding the question of whether the incident with the plane may lead to even greater conflict between Damascus and Ankara, the president said that the Turkish and Syrian people are friendly. So, this incident will not lead to military or other action between the parties.

Turkey has started transporting military equipment to the border with Syria since last Tuesday after Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that Bashar al-Assad's regime is a threat to his country's security.

Erdogan's statement appeared after Syria said that it hit the Turkish aircraft over its territorial waters after invading its airspace. However, Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said that the plane was shot down in international airspace and wreckage fell into Syrian territorial waters.

The Turkish reconnaissance aircraft RF-4E which took off on Friday from an Erhach airbase in Malatya province in south-eastern Turkey, disappeared from radar screens at about noon local time in the Mediterranean Sea to the south-east of the province of Hatay bordering on Syria.

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