Well, this is interesting. A Turkish RF-4E Phantom photo-reconnaissance fighter has apparently gone missing near Turkey’s border with Syria on the Mediterranean coast. RUMINT is spreading that the jet was shot down by Syrian government forces.
UPDATE: Reports are emerging saying the jet was indeed shot down by Syrian forces.
While the BBC is reporting that it was an F-4 Phantom that went down, it should be noted that the Turkish air force only fies the RF-4E recce version of the legendary — and ancient — fighter.
Remember, Turkey is a NATO state and members of the alliance are already providing aide to the Syrian rebels, (including the U.S., the CIA is apparently shipping them weapons).
This RF-4E could well have been gathering intel on Assad’s troops when it was shot down.
It’s also worth asking if this will warrant a heavier intervention by NATO forces on behalf of the rebels?
Here’s what the BBC is reporting.
Turkey’s government has called an emergency security meeting amid reports that one of its fighter jets was shot down by Syrian security forces.
The F-4 Phantom disappeared over the Mediterranean, south-west of Hatay province, not far from Syria’s coast.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was initially quoted as saying: “The other side have expressed regret”.
Later he could not confirm what brought the jet down but said rescue teams were searching for the crew.
“Regarding our pilots, we do not have any information, but at the moment four of our gunboats and some Syrian gunboats are carrying out a joint search there,” he said.
Relations between Turkey and Syria, once close allies, have deteriorated sharply since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.
The Turkish military said it lost radio contact with the F-4 at 1158 (0858 GMT) on Friday while it was flying over Hatay, about 90 minutes after it took off from Erhac airbase in the province of Malatya, to the north-west.
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.
The Syrian coast guard was helping the Turkish coast guard, navy and air force search for the two crew members and the plane, NTV reported.
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.
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