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.
Gallup World Poll says while 60% of ethnic Turks are satisfied with Erdogan's leadership, this rate hits 67% among ethnic Kurds.
'No award is more important than the lives of our Palestinian brothers,' says Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu
The arrested police officers include Yurt Atayun, former chief of Istanbul’s anti-terror police department
When they reached Gaza, the three shipments were received by the Palestinian Red Crescent
A letter released by Erdogan's office called on the U.S. group to condemn the Israeli government's policies
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the bombardment of Gaza was 'killing humanity'
Neither Israeli's nor Egypt under Al-Sisi are willing to get aid to help the Palestinians in Gaza, says Erdogan.
A week after Turkey and Egypt exhanged insults over the Israeli onslaught in Gaza, Ahmet Davutoglu says all main actors including Egypt had taken part in the cease-fire process
Scores of people also injured after public bus catches fire near Kavacik district
Shadow of slaughter of Palestinians looms over three-day Eid al-Fitr holiday
Painkillers, antibiotics and surgical supplies among 20 tons of aid
Travellers can use $4 billion service for free for one week. An estimated 7.5 million passengers are expected to use the new line.
Abdulrauf Gazi Mohammed flown from Egypt to hospital in city as Turkey moves to treat injured Palestinians stranded in Egypt
Ahmet Davutoglu says no sustainable truce is possible if reality of Hamas is ignored, hours before Israel renews military offensive in Gaza
Israel is perpetrating genocide in Gaza, said Erdogan, adding “Eventually the right will prevail and the oppressor will go to hell”
Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Turkey would reconsider its stance with Tel Aviv if Israeli government changes its mentality.