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Erdogan Says Turkey Probing Jet Disappearance; Reports Of Syria Apology

June 22, 2012

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said he cannot confirm a missing Turkish warplane was downed by Syria.

Earlier Turkish media reports had quoted Erdogan as saying Syria had shot down the F-4 jet near the Syrian coast and that Damascus had immediately apologized.

The Turkish military earlier on June 22 announced one of its planes was missing.

Erdogan told a press conference in Ankara: "We've lost a plane and as yet we don't have any information as to what happened and whether it was brought down."

The Turkish premier said he had no word on the fate of the two airmen.

Erdogan spoke to the media before heading into an emergency meeting with top military and intelligence officials.

The meeting had been originally scheduled to discuss attacks by Kurdish rebels and Turkish military retaliation against Kurdish bases in Iraq earlier this week.

Erdogan, who has just returned from a trip to Mexico and Brazil, said a statement might be issued later on June 22 after the emergency meeting.

It was not immediately clear what happened to the crew of the F-4 jet. Erdogan did say Turkey and Syria were working together in a search-and-rescue operation.

The incident with the plane comes amid tense relations between Turkey and Syria.

Turkey has criticized Syria's government for its harsh crackdown on opposition forces during 16 months of fighting in Syria that has left at least 10,000 dead, according to the UN, and Ankara has joined calls for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad to step down.

The conflict in Syria has also sent more than 30,000 refugees into Turkey.

Ankara has previously offered to set up a humanitarian corridor inside Syria which would entail a military intervention but said it would need UN approval for such a move.

The reports of the jet mishap within hours of UN-Arab League envoy for Syria Kofi Annan saying that countries with influence should step up the pressure on Syria and rebel groups to end the violence. He added that time was running out for his six-point plan to bring peace to Syria.

Based on reporting by Reuters, BBC, AFP, AP, and dpa

Source: http://www.rferl.org/content/syria-apology-turkey-shooting-down-military-jet/24623145.html

Copyright (c) 2012. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave., N.W. Washington DC 20036.

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