NATO condemns downing of jet, no threat of retaliation

The NATO Council has issued strong condemnation of Syria's shooting down of a Turkish aircraft, but refrained from threatening with military intervention.

Source: Tanjug
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"NATO allies have expressed severe condemnation of this totally unacceptable act," the western military alliance's Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the emergency session held on Tuesday.

The meeting was attended by ambassadors of 27 NATO member-states.

Turkey requested the meeting after one of its military jets was downed on July 22 above the Mediterranean, near the Syrian coast. Although Turkey invoked Article 5 of NATO's founding charter - where an attack on one member is defined an attack on the entire pact - Rasmussen said that Article 5 was not mentioned in today's session.

A statement from the meeting said that the shooting down of the aircraft, apart from being "unacceptable", was also "another example of the disregard of the Syrian authorities to international law, peace, security and human lives".

The statement made no mention of the possibility of military intervention against Syria.

Tensions between Turkey and Syria have grown since brutal clashes broke out between the Syrian security forces and rebels, causing serious suffering of the civilian population.

Turkey received a large number of Syrian refugees and joined the calls of the international community for President Bashar al-Assad should step down.

According to Turkey, the plane downed on Friday was on a training mission and violated the Syrian space accidentally, to "leave it immediately".

Nevertheless it was shot down, while the Syrian authorities said that the anti-aircraft crew "could not have known that the aircraft was unarmed" and that its commander "reacted automatically".

The search continues for the Turkish pilot in the meanwhile. Turkey has also accused Syria of shooting at military aircraft that participated in the search.

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