x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Nato envoys to meet over Turkish jet downed by Syria

Envoys from Nato member states will meet on Tuesday after Turkey requested consultations over the downing of its military jet by Syria, a Nato spokeswoman said today.

BRUSSELS // Envoys from Nato member states will meet on Tuesday after Turkey requested consultations over the downing of its military jet by Syria, a Nato spokeswoman said today.

"Turkey has requested consultations under article 4 of Nato's founding Washington Treaty. Under article 4, any ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened," Oana Lungescu said.

"The NAC (North Atlantic Council) will meet on Tuesday at Turkey's request. We expect Turkey to make a presentation on the recent incident."

Ahmet Davutoglu, the Turkish foreign minister, said earlier that the jet was shot down while it was flying in international airspace some 15 minutes after it momentarily strayed into Syria's territory.

"According to our conclusions, our plane was shot down in international airspace, 13 nautical miles from Syria," he said.

"The plane did not show any sign of hostility toward Syria and was shot down about 15 minutes after having momentarily violated Syrian airspace."

The minister said that there was no warning from Syria before it shot down the plane, which did not have arms and was flying on a training mission and undertaking a radar system test.

"The Syrians knew full well that it was a Turkish military plane and the nature of its mission," he said.

Meanwhile, William Hague, the British foreign minister, condemned Syria's shooting down of a Turkish jet as "outrageous" and said Britain was ready to support robust action against Syria by the United Nations Security Council.

Turkey said Syria had shot down its military aircraft in international waters on Friday without warning and declared it would formally consult with Nato allies — of which Britain is one — on a reaction.

"I am gravely concerned by the Syrian regime's action in shooting down a Turkish military plane on 22 June," Mr Hague said in a statement published by his ministry.

"This outrageous act underlines how far beyond accepted behaviour the Syrian regime has put itself and I condemn it wholeheartedly," he added. "[Syria] will be held to account for its behaviour. The UK stands ready to pursue robust action at the United Nations Security Council."

Ali Akbar Salehi, the Iranian foreign minister, yesterday urged Turkey and Syria to show restraint, according to his ministry.

In a telephone conversation with Mr Davutoglu, Mr Salehi said he hoped the two sides would "settle the issue peacefully to maintain regional stability," read a statement on the Iranian foreign ministry's website.

Iran has supported Bashar Al Assad, the Syrian president, since anti-government protests erupted across the country early last year and grew into an armed uprising.

According to a Syrian military account, the aircraft was flying fast and low, just one kilometre off the Syrian coast when it was hit.

Signals from both sides suggest neither want a military confrontation over the incident and the countries have started a 'coordinated" search for the missing airmen.