F4 Phantom Jet
Both Syria and Turkey are confirming now that a Turkish fighter jet has been shot down by Syria. Though the story is likely to be spun otherwise by the Western media, the plane almost surely was in Syrian airspace when it was fired upon. If this proves to be the case, then the Syrian government had every right to take the action it did.
A story in SANA, the Syrian news agency, gives the following fairly clear account:
DAMASCUS, (SANA) – A military spokesman issued the following statement: At 11:40 AM on 22/6/2012, an unidentified aerial target violated Syrian airspace, coming from the west at a very low altitude and at high speed over territorial waters, so the Syrian anti-air defenses counteracted with anti-aircraft artillery, hitting it directly as it was 1 kilometer away from land, causing it to crash into Syrian territorial waters west of Om al-Tuyour village in Lattakia province, 10 kilometers from the beach.
The spokesman added that the target turned out to be a Turkish military plane that entered Syrian airspace and was dealt with according to laws observed in such cases.
The spokesman also said that the two countries' naval forces' commands have established contact, and Syrian naval ships along with the Turkish side are searching for the two missing pilots.
The BBC is reporting the following:
The private news channel, NTV, later cited unnamed military sources as saying that the plane had crashed off Hatay's Mediterranean coast, in Syrian territorial waters, but that there had been no border violation.
Witnesses in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia meanwhile told BBC Arabic that Syrian air defences had shot down an unidentified aircraft near the town of Ras al-Basit.
Lebanon's al-Manar television channel - controlled by Lebanon's Shia Hezbollah movement, an ally of the Syrian government - also reported that Syrian security sources had said that "Syrian air defences shot down a Turkish warplane and hit another in Syrian airspace".
The BBC is also reporting that the type of plane shot down was an F4 Phantom, which is an old Vietnam-era plane made by McDonnell Douglas. Is this the best military aircraft Turkey has? I doubt it. If the plane was flying over the Turkish province of Hatay, as the Turks claim, how did it end up in Syrian territorial waters? If it crashed "off Hatay's Mediterranean coast," as the report cited by the BBC has it, how on earth, again, did it end up in Syrian territorial waters? Did the wreckage float southward after it hit the surface of the ocean? Keep in mind, Hatay is a Turkish province and that Ras al-Basit is a Syrian town.
Also keep in mind that Turkey has been supporting NATO's terrorists, the Free Syrian Army. Was the invasion of Syrian airspace a deliberate provocation on Turkey's part?
How the shooting down of this plane is spun in the Western media could make the difference between the situation continuing as is or whether it escalates into all-out war. The New York Times is reporting, not surprisingly, that the plane "went down in the Mediterranean near the southern coast of Turkey's Hatay Province, which borders Syria's Latakia Province." The report does give the Syrian side of the story, as cited in the SANA report, but seems to accord it little credence. The same report also tells of a "new mass killing" in Syria's Aleppo Province, in the village of Daret Azzeh, basing its information on "opposition activists" and the largely discredited Syrian Observatory for Human Rights—while at the same time, again, dismissing Syrian government accounts of the same incident, this time in slightly more disdainful terms:
SANA's report on the same massacre is here, but be advised it's only three paragraphs long and doesn't provide much in the way of details. Video footage of what is purported to be the Daret Azzeh corpses has also been uploaded by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights. You'll simply have to make up your own mind who you choose to believe. In terms of what gets reported in the Syrian media, my guess is that after all that's happened, all the atrocities that have come before, a massacre of only 25 people probably is not going to warrant that much attention.
Getting back to the BBC report, quoted above, you'll notice that a second Turkish plane is referenced, a plane that perhaps was also fired upon but managed to escape. The second plane is also mentioned in a video report here.
The following RT report offers a perspective on the latest development that certainly will not be found in Western media: namely that Syria has a right to defend itself. Usually, of course, in Western media narrative, the only Middle East state that has a right to defend itself is Israel.
Curiously, the shooting down of the jet comes just one day after the alleged defection of a Syrian Air Force pilot. The blog Penny for Your Thoughts has published an analysis on that incident in which the possibility that the pilot's family was kidnapped by NATO rebels is explored.
Finally, commentary via Press TV from Lebanon-based writer Franklin Lamb, who comments on recent reports that American CIA agents are operating out of Turkey providing assistance to anti-government rebels inside Syria. Lamb believes the revelations are the American response to recent actions by Russia in support of the government, and says he has "little doubt that the Americans will go much further in the future as far as ratcheting up the pressure to implement its goals."
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