US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland at a press briefing on Tuesday was asked about recent statements by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to the Turkish press in which he said he regrets the downing of the jet. “Well, I can't speak to Assad's motives for what he does or what he says. I will say again, as we said at the time, that they shot down this plane with no warning, and that's despicable,” Nuland said.
Syrian forces shot down a Turkish F-4 Phantom, an unarmed reconnaissance version of the F-4 fighter jet, which according to Ankara was on a solo mission to test domestic radar systems and was hit in international airspace after it briefly strayed into Syrian airspace, on June 22.
Ankara says the jet was downed by Syria without warning in a “hostile act.” Moreover, Turkey believes the plane was hit with a laser-guided or heat-guided missile, both of which would have been capable of hitting the plane while it was in international airspace.
However, Syria says Syrian air defense had to react immediately to a Turkish jet flying low at 100 meters (330 feet) inside of Syrian airspace in what was “a clear breach of Syrian sovereignty.” Syria also says the plane was downed by anti-aircraft fire, rather than by a missile.