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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Turkey, Syria Not Yet Found Pilots of Downed Jet

RIA Novosti

19:26 23/06/2012

ANKARA, June 23 (RIA Novosti) - The Naval Forces of Turkey and Syria have not yet found two pilots of the Turkish warplane, shot down by Syria's air defense forces on Friday, in the Mediterranean Sea during a two-day search and rescue activities, Turkey's NTV television channel reported on Saturday.

The TV also said that the Naval Forces had found fragments of the jet but the information had not been yet confirmed officially.

The plane, an F-4 Phantom, disappeared over the Mediterranean, near the Syrian coast, about 09:00 GMT on Friday.

Turkish President Abdullah Gul said earlier on Saturday that the country could not ignore the fact that Syria had downed a Turkish aircraft. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has said Turkey would take all necessary steps once all details of the incident are established.

Relations between NATO-member Turkey and Syria have declined dramatically since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March last year. The border between the two countries is "awash" with Syrian refugees and rebel fighters, the al Arabiya TV channel has said.

Syrian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Jihad Makdissi said on Saturday that Damascus had no plans to shoot down the plane and thing that happened was just an 'incident'.

"[The thing that happened] should not be regarded as a hostile action against Turkey in any case. It was only the protection of our sovereignty. It is an incident, not an attack," Makdissi told Turkey's A Haber television channel.

"The main thing is that the Naval Forces of Syria and Turkey are both searching for the pilots. I hope we will find them soon and the incident will remain in the past," Makdissi added.

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