World Bulletin / News Desk
Turkey has downplayed claims by pan Arab TV network Al Arabiya in which it said two Turkish pilots thought to have been killed by the downing of their jet by Syria in June survived the crash but were later executed by Syrian forces.
Al Arabiya's claims come amidst already high tensions between Turkey and Syria but Ankara questions the reliability of the leaked documents.
“It is obvious that documents Al Arabiya published are fabricated,” İbrahim Kalın, chief adviser to Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, said in his Twitter feed. His remarks were first high-level reaction in Ankara to the leaked documents.
Al Arabiya reported on Saturday that it obtained newly leaked Syrian intelligence documents with the assistance of members of the Syrian opposition that suggest that Capt. Gökhan Ertan and Lt. Hasan Hüseyin Aksoy were captured alive after their fighter jet was shot down on June 22, 2012, and later killed by Syrian forces.
One highly confidential document reportedly obtained by Al Arabiya was allegedly sent directly from Assad's presidential office to brigadier Hassan Abdel Rahman -- who the news channel identifies as the chief of the Syrian Special Operations Unit -- read: “Two Turkish pilots were captured by the Syrian Air Force Intelligence after their jet was shot down in coordination with the Russian naval base in (the Syrian city of) Tartus.” The document suggests that the pilots were still alive after the plane crashed and that Russia was also involved in the downing of the jet.
Kalın discredited the claims and said these “state documents, secret order and intelligence note” cannot be in this way, referring to the fact that the documents lack sufficient qualification to be named as state documents.
The Al Arabiya report said a subsequently leaked file, also sent from the presidential palace and addressed to all heads of units of the Syrian foreign intelligence agency, said based on Russian advice, the Syrian intelligence decided to “eliminate” the pilots “in a natural way.” “Based on information and guidance from the Russian leadership there is a need to eliminate the two Turkish pilots detained by the Special Operations Unit in a natural way and their bodies need to be returned to the crash site in international waters,” the document allegedly says.
The RF-4E Phantom, an unarmed reconnaissance jet, crashed off the Syrian coast on June 22 amid tensions between Turkey and Syria over Syria's brutal crackdown on an anti-regime uprising. Syrian authorities claimed responsibility for downing the jet immediately following the incident but defended the action, saying that Syrian air defense was forced to react immediately to a 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, well within its airspace.
Turkey, on the other hand, maintained that the plane was shot down by a missile outside Syrian airspace -- 13 miles off the Syrian coast -- when it was on a solo mission to test domestic radar systems. The government has promised that Syria's “hostile act” will not go unpunished, and the military sent air defense systems to the Syrian border after Erdoğan said any Syrian military units approaching the border would be treated as hostile.
Turkey will seek a discount in the price of gas it is buying from Russia during planned talks, Turkey's energy minister said
Turkey to lead growth in Europe's aviation sector, according to Boeing's Turkey and North African president.
The Asian region has ever-increasing share in world economy, Malaysia's prime minister said ahead of the FTA signing.
The changes ratified by parliament give the MIT more scope for eavesdropping and foreign operations, as well as greater immunity from prosecution for top agents.
"Do not give credit to other than the official statement," Basci told reporters after his discord with PM Erdogan.
Greek jets locked onto Turkish jets as they flew in international air space over the Aegean Sea.
Turkey has promised to help Crimean Tatars maintain their cultural and linguistic identity in the hope that their language will officially be recognized.
Slowing economies and higher interest rates will drag banks in emerging markets, says ratings agency.
A Greek court refused Turkey's demand to extradite illegal organization member Huseyin Fevzi Tekin, who was detained in his home with ammunition in Athens.
Kurdish politician and writer Yasar Kaya, founder of the Kurdish nationalist Democracy Party, returns from 21-year exile in Germany to Turkey.
Thursday's newspapers mainly cover President Abdullah Gul’s comments on Turkey's August presidential election, the ruling AK Party’s meeting on that contest, high-level talks between Twitter and Ankar, plus a ferry disaster in South Korea.
Turkey's main opposition party called for a parliamentary inquiry to look into imprisonment of some 300 members of Turkish Armed Forces.
Energy cooperation between Turkey and Iraq’s Kurdish regional government is stated clearly to both the U.S. and the government in Iraq, says Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
The Turkish government sponsors a number of charity and development projects in the Gaza Strip.
Ankara's current efforts towards streamlining trade are aimed at fully widening scope of business with Iran, says Turkish Development Minister at Tehran forum.
The massacre of Muslims in the Central African Republic has been compared to the genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda.