NATO convene discuss downing of Turkish jet

June 26, 2012, Tuesday/ 12:13:00

NATO's governing body convened on Tuesday to discuss the shooting down of a Turkish military plane by Syria.

Turkey will brief NATO's North Atlantic Council on the downing Friday of its unarmed RF-4E reconnaissance jet over the Mediterranean Sea. It crashed into the sea a mile (1.6 kilometers) inside international waters. The two pilots are still missing. 

The discussions will be held under Article 4 of NATO's founding treaty, which allows a NATO member, in this case Turkey, to request consultations if its security has been threatened, officials and diplomats said. 

On Monday, Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bülent Arinç said Ankara would request that the incident be considered under Article 5, which states that an attack against one NATO member shall be considered an attack against all members and would possibly allow for NATO military retaliation. 

But diplomats and officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the alliance's standing rules, said Turkey had formally requested that the incident is discussed under Article 4. 

Syria said the downing was an accident, caused by the "automatic response" of an officer commanding an anti-aircraft position who saw an unidentified jet flying at high speed and low altitude. 

Diplomats said the 28 ambassadors who make up the North Atlantic Council will discuss Turkey's concerns and would likely condemn the downing, but refrain from military action. 

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen has repeatedly said that the alliance would need a clear international mandate, and regional support, before it embarked on a mission in Syria. Last year, NATO launched air attacks on Libyan government targets only after receiving such a mandate from the U.N. Security Council, along with backing from the Arab League.