World Bulletin / News Desk
Col. Ertuğrulgazi Özkürkçü, the head of the Turkish General Staff's information department, has stated that the military provided complete information to the government concerning the details of how a Turkish jet crashed off the Syrian coast on June 22, adding that any contradictions over the jet were due to comments made by unauthorized people.
“We [the General Staff] do not have any contradiction in our statements regarding the downed jet. Any contradictions are due to the comments and assessments made by unauthorized people,” Özkürkçü said in remarks made to the Taraf daily.
Özkürkçü stated that since the incident took place, the General Staff has shared all information about the jet with the Turkish Foreign Ministry accordingly, adding that the first statement made by the Syrian side was taken into consideration immediately.
“We also sent the initial records on the salvaged wreckage prepared by the Gendarmerie Criminal Department to the officials,” added Özkürkçü.
Following the downing of a Turkish RF-4E Phantom, an unarmed reconnaissance jet, by the Syrian forces on June 22, several claims were made by the two countries.
Syrian authorities claimed responsibility for downing the jet immediately following the incident, but defended their actions, saying that the Syrian air defense was forced to react immediately to the Turkish jet flying low at 100 meters (330 feet) inside Syrian airspace in what was “a clear breach of Syrian sovereignty.”
Syria also said the plane was downed by anti-aircraft fire, rather than by a missile. Ankara, on the other hand, has maintained that the jet was downed by Syria without warning in a “hostile act.” Turkish government officials claim that the plane was hit by a laser-guided or heat-seeking missile, either of which would have been capable of hitting the plane while it was in international airspace.
However, to further complicate matters, speculation has also arisen that the plane might have been hit by anti-aircraft fire that did not originate from Syrian forces. Analysts have claimed that anti-aircraft fire could have come from a Russian military base in the Syrian port of Tartus.
Other analysts claim that the Turkish jet was downed as a result of “electromagnetic intervention.” The experts claim the jet was damaged after being subjected to high-intensity radio waves from electromagnetic (radiation) weapons.
Touching upon claims that the jet may have been downed after spinning and nose diving, Özkürkçü stated that the General Staff has not shared any information regarding the claim with government officials.
“From the very beginning, the General Staff did not make any statements on how and by what means the jet was downed. According to national radar data, the General Staff stated that the jet was shot in international air space, 13 miles off the Syrian coast, and crashed in Syrian waters, eight miles off the coast,” said Özkürkçü.
The plane was detected flying over 13 miles off the Syrian coast, while its wreckage has been found.
“The path of our jet was shared by the press. We did not obtain any data regarding the incident from either NATO, the US or Russia,” said Özkürkçü.
Özkürkçü said that the General staff has provided official authorities with timely and accurate information about the jet.
Recently, the General Staff has denied a news report claiming the military provided faulty information to the government concerning the details of how the jet crashed off the Syrian coast, posting a statement on its website responding to a report by the Taraf daily claiming that it had relayed inaccurate information to the government and to the president about the incident.
Taraf claimed that the General Staff's statement that the jet was downed in international airspace was not entirely accurate.
“We wish for the incident, and all the various aspects, to be cleared up. We are striving for this. When work on the technical analysis comes to an end, we will share the information with officials in the coming days,” concluded Özkürkçü in his remarks to the Taraf daily.