World Bulletin / News Desk
Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has told a Turkish newspaper he wished Syrian forces had not shot down a Turkish jet last month and that he would not allow the tensions between the two countries to turn into open combat.
"We learned that it (the plane) belonged to Turkey after shooting it down. I say 100 percent 'if only we had not shot it down'," the Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted Assad as saying in an interview published on Tuesday.
His comments emerged as fighting raged throughout Syria to unseat Assad in what is increasingly taking on the character of an all-out civil war, fuelled by sectarian hatred.
Syrian helicopters bombarded a Damascus suburb on Monday and Turkey scrambled warplanes near the border in the north, as the U.N. human rights chief warned that arms supplies to both the government and rebels were deepening the 16-month conflict.
Asked whether the tensions between Syria and Turkey could lead to war, Assad said: "We will not allow (the tensions) to turn into open combat between the two countries, which would harm them both."
He also said Syria had not amassed and would not amass military forces along the Turkish border, whatever action Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government takes.
The paper did not specify when the interview was held, but in it Assad refers to an international meeting held in Geneva on Saturday under the auspices of peace envoy Kofi Annan.
Turkey has heightened military activity along its southern border since Syria shot down the Turkish jet over the Mediterranean on June 22, prompting a sharp rebuke from Ankara which said it would respond "decisively".
Syria says it shot down the Turkish jet "in self-defence" and that it was brought down in Syrian air space. Turkey says the jet accidentally violated Syrian air space for a few minutes but was brought down in international air space.
Assad said Syria would not shy away from apologising if it emerged that the plane was shot down in international airspace.
"The plane was using a corridor which Israeli planes have used three times before. Soldiers shot it down because we did not see it on our radar and because information was not given."
"Of course I might have been happy if this had been an Israeli plane," Assad said.
Municipialities from many regions of Turkey have announced they have stopped selling Israeli prouducts.
The attack on southeastern Sanliurfa city leaves twoTurkish soldiers on border duty dead and injured two others late on Monday.
Dozens suffer severe burns after gas truck explosion.
Turkey's telecoms regulator has blocked access to 110 web sites over last five years for providing illegal online gambling.
'We strongly condemn this massacre, which has reached the cruelest level in collective punishment,' says Turkey's foreign ministry.
Erdogan said he will not act according to conventions. Rather, he will act according to the constitution.
Turkish dailies on Monday focused on Israel’s military operation in Gaza plus Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s remarks on the upcoming presidential elections.
Erdogan criticized Egypt's al-Sisi, accusing him of blocking humanitarian aid to the blockaded Gaza Strip.
The Kurecik early warning radar system in eastern Malatya province does not share information with non-NATO members, the Foreign Ministry said.
Turkish government has not sold jet fuel to Israel, Energy Ministry said
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan called on the US to contribute to world peace during an interview on Turkish television.
Turkish Prime Minister accused Israel of having "surpassed Hitler in barbarism" through its attacks on Gaza, but warned Turks against taking out their anger on the country's Jewish community
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem said Israelis should "avoid non-essential visits" to Turkey.
A Turkish businessman was released after being held for twelve hours at the Rafic Hariri Airport in Beirut.
Turkish lawmakers of all political parties have issued a joint declaration denouncing Israel's ground invasion of Gaza.
Syrian entrepreneurs have been ranked first in foreign investments made in Turkey, according to official numbers.