Turkish army chief on jet incident: No war but you'll see what we'll do

Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel prays for two pilots, who were killed when Syrian forces downed a Turkish jet last month, during a funeral ceremony held last week. (Photo: Reuters)

July 09, 2012, Monday/ 10:49:00

Turkish Chief of General Staff Gen. Necdet Özel has said Turkey will do whatever great states do in response to Syria's downing of a Turkish military jet last month, saying everyone will see Turkey's response, but that it will not mean waging a war.

“Of course, it is not like we will start a war,” the military chief told Akşam daily's İsmail Küçükkaya during an interview. “We are closely following [the issue]. We have all kinds of capabilities and means. We will do whatever great states do [in such a situation]. You will also see what we will do in the rest of the world when we do it,” Özel said, according to Küçükkaya's column published on Monday.

Syrian forces shot down an F-4 Phantom, an unarmed reconnaissance version of the F-4 fighter jet, on June 22, when, according to Ankara, it was on a solo mission to test domestic radar systems. Ankara says the jet was hit in international airspace after it briefly strayed into Syrian airspace.

However, Syria insists the aircraft was hit by anti-aircraft fire within Syrian airspace. Turkey, while commenting that the act would “not go unpunished,” emphasized that it does not intend to go to war with Syria.

The findings from the wreckage site and an autopsy of the pilots' bodies conducted on Thursday revealed that the jet was most probably hit by a missile. Military experts say further tests are needed to confirm exactly what hit the jet, but initial findings seemed to indicate that it couldn't possibly have been anti-aircraft fire.

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