Turkey asks Israel about fuel tanks
( AP ) - Turkey has requested information from Israel about fuel tanks found near the Turkish border with Syria that allegedly were dropped by Israeli aircraft, an official said Sunday.
The request follows Syria's claim last week that Israeli aircraft entered its airspace and dropped "munitions" onto deserted areas after being shot at by Syrian air defenses. Israel has not commented on the incident.
Turkey requested information from Israel on the fuel tanks Saturday but has not received a response, said a Foreign Ministry official who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make media statements.
Israel's envoy to Turkey was summoned Saturday to the Turkish Foreign Ministry, which issued a formal protest over the fuel tanks, Israeli government officials told the Yediot Ahronot and Haaretz newspapers. Israel's Foreign Ministry refused to comment.
Warplanes sometimes drop extra fuel tanks to make the aircraft lighter and easier to maneuver.
Over the weekend, Turkish TV broadcast pictures of what it said were the Israeli fuel tanks found in the provinces of Hatay and Gaziantep, near the Syrian border. The tanks did not have any national markings. If accurate, the report would be the first concrete evidence that Israeli warplanes were in the area.
Israel would have a number of reasons to fly over northern Syria: to collect information about long-range missiles pointed at Israel, to test Syrian air defense, or to try out a possible air route to its archenemy Iran. But the incident has raised questions about why Israel would want to heighten tensions with its enemy to the north.
On Sunday, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem arrived in Ankara for talks with President Abdullah Gul, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ali Babacan. Al-Moallem was expected to discuss the alleged Israeli over-flights, Turkish officials said, although the visit was planned before the incident.
"We are prepared to defend ourselves against any attack that Israel may plan, but our basic priority is a comprehensive peace," the Anatolia news agency quoted al-Moallem as telling reporters on arrival.