During a Prime Ministry-organized iftar (fast-breaking) dinner attended by Ankara-based foreign diplomats, Erdoğan stated that Syria downed the Turkish plane in a “hostile stance” against Turkey, going against international practices. “Turkey has taken all necessary measures against such [a hostile] stance. Turkey has brought new rules of engagement [against a military threat from Syria]. It would not hesitate in a tit-for-tat retaliation from now on,” Erdoğan maintained.
Claiming that “momentary violations of airspace” are possible and have been unintentionally made from time to time in Turkey's airspace, the prime minister said: “Related to such events, countries issue warnings and violations are reported. However, Syria downed our jet in a very hostile attack, disregarding that it is an instantaneous violation.”
A Turkish RF-4E Phantom crashed off the Syrian coast over the Mediterranean on July 22 and Syrian authorities have claimed responsibility for downing the jet.
Meanwhile, no Syrian and Israeli envoys were invited to the dinner. The two countries do not currently have ambassadors in Turkey as Ankara has downgraded its relations with both nations.
Erdoğan also harshly rejected claims of a sectarian conflict in Syria, saying that the humanitarian situation in the country is affecting all segments of Syrian society.
The prime minister says he believes the Syrian people are on the verge of victory, as the recent surge of Syrian opposition fighters in Aleppo and the capital Damascus resulted in one of the bloodiest clashes of the 16-month uprising. In a reference to Syria's embattled President Bashar al-Assad's possible departure, Erdoğan said the Syrian people are closer to victory than ever, adding that if the Syrian president had heeded Ankara's advice on political reforms and how to handle the uprising, Syria would not be in this situation today.
“The bloody regime in Syria will fall sooner or later,” Erdoğan stated before the diplomats.
Noting that more than 20,000 people have been killed since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, and that the number of Syrian refugees amounted to 40,000 in Turkey alone, Erdoğan called on the international community to take more responsibility in the crisis. “If there are people who absolve themselves thinking that politics and sects are clashing in Syria, I say to them that humanity is being massacred as a whole in Syria,” Erdoğan commented, adding, “Where are the world powers defending peace?”
PM invites UN to take action against Myanmar massacre
Erdoğan also touched on the plight of the Muslim population in Myanmar's Arakan province, which has been exposed to escalating violence, inviting the UN to take action to stop the humanitarian crisis.
“A handful of Muslims are being massacred by the administration [in Myanmar]. What is more natural than expressing that?” Erdoğan asked during his speech.
The trigger for the violence in Myanmar occurred in June, with claims that three Rohingya Muslims had raped a Buddhist woman. Following the allegations, extremist Buddhists started killing Muslims living in Arakan province.
More than 1,000 Rohingya Muslims living in Myanmar have been killed and over 90,000 left homeless since the outbreak of the violence, international activist groups claim. Estimates of the death toll differ, with one aid team, the only foreign team with permission to enter the region, stating that it is neither as low as Myanmar's government has declared nor as high as activists have claimed.