Spokesman for the Foreign and Expatriates Ministry Dr. Jihad Makdessi said that the Syrian response to the Turkish military aircraft which blatantly violated the Syrian sovereignty was a defensive and sovereign act, and that Syrian territories, waters and airspace are sacrosanct.
In a press conference held on Monday, Makdessi said that what happened was a blatant violation of Syrian sovereignty according to international law, which is confirmed by facts, information, and the Turkish statements that admitted to the violation of Syrian airspace and territorial waters, regardless of the intents of the aircraft be they reconnaissance or training.
He said that what the Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said in the interview on Sunday is baseless and inaccurate, as he gave a story that completely contradicted the facts of this aggression on Syrian sovereignty when he claimed that the aircraft was hit and crashed in international waters.
Makdessi pointed out that the Syrian anti-aircraft defense used a land-based anti-aircraft machinegun with a maximum range of 2.5 kilometers, and that the wreckage found by the Syrian authorities and delivered to the Turkish side with an official record shows holes in the tail-end of the plane which confirm that it was shot down by a ground-based machinegun, not missiles.
“Had the aircraft been over territorial waters, we would have used missiles, not a land-based anti-aircraft machinegun with a maximum range of 2.5 kilometers… all of this confirms the falsity of the allegations that the aircraft was shot down outside Syrian territorial waters,” he said.
In response to Davutoglu’s statement that the aircraft wasn’t alerted, Makedessi said that the Syrian anti-air defenses operate automatically in such cases, and that even if the unidentified aircraft was Syrian, it would have been shot down in the same manner, adding that that machinegun that shot down the plane isn’t equipped with radar; rather it had visual confirmation of it approaching it at a distance of 1 to 2 kilometers at an altitude of 100 meters and at a speed of 800 kph.
He noted that Syrian anti-air defenses repelled violations by Israeli enemy airplanes in that same area in 2007 and that those aircrafts weren’t shot down then because that breach was different and unexpected and had a military nature.
Makdessi pointed out that Syria suggested to Turkey to form a joint military technical committee to visit the site of the incident in Lattakia to inspect the reality of what happened, but the Turkish side didn’t respond up to the moment, adding that rescue operations are ongoing with coordination between the two sides, which resulted in finding the wreckage and delivering it to the Turkish side, but unfortunately the pilots have not been found
“There’s a political campaign that has nothing to do with reality, and it aims to further demonize Syria, and the more the fail on the political level to aggravate the situaiton with Syria, they resort to other means… unfortunately, the Turkish Foreign Minister in particular and the Turkish government in general have been negative over the past 15 months regarding the crisis in Syria… they seek to aggravate the situation in Syria.”
Makdessi hoped that Davutoglu would make a positive reconsideration regarding Syria, adding that Syria has no ill intentions towards Turkey, adding “There is a crisis in Syria, but the solution cannot be through aggravating, mobilizing and arming the movement in Syria, nor through hosting entities that do not believe in a political solution but rather believe in militarizing the movement and undermining the stability of the neighboring country, Syria.”
He stressed that there’s still considerable friendliness between the Syrian and Turkish people despite the sly practices of the Turkish government which seek to gain the support of the Turkish people for its policies which do not serve Turkey through manipulating the the nationalist feeling which we respect.
“Syria, just like Turkey, is a proud nation. We know whenever someone hurts us what our nationalist feeling is like, but the Turkish government will not succeed in this. We are explaining the whole issue wisely and rationally with the hope that Turkey will show wisdom and rationality in return,” he said.
Makdessi pointed out that official correspondence with Turkey on Sunday clarified the details of the incident in response to the Turkish allegations that what happened was a Syrian aggression against Turkey, with the correspondence stating that on 11.40 AM on June 22nd, Syrian radar systems detected a flying object heading towards Syrian territories that performed a left turn towards the northeast and climbed down to a low altitude where it disappeared from the radars, only to appear suddenly at an altitude of 100 meters, 1 to 2 kilometers from the beach and Syrian land, and became suddenly visible to the naked eye.
He added that later, it turned out that the object was an aircraft heading towards the beach and Syrian land at a speed of 700 to 800 kph, which engaged the rules of engagement employed in all sovereign countries, prompting Syrian anti-air defense to engage it.
Makdessi affirmed that the weapon used in repelling this violation of Syrian airspace was anti-aircraft artillery firing 23.57 rounds stationed on Syrian beaches, hitting the aircraft directly, adding that the aircraft was seen heading left afterwards and crashing in Syrian territorial waters.
He said that Syria is committed to the good neighborly relations with Turkey and that it wishes to resume cooperation with the Turkish side, noting that Syria wasn’t the one who harmed the bilateral relations is not Syria, which in the worst cases applied the principle of reciprocity, adding “We might respond to every positive step from the Turkish side with positive steps on our side if the Turkish government still believes in good neighborly relations with Syria.
“We live a state of political tension with Turkey but we hold no hostile intentions towards the Turkish people or the Turkish state,” Makdessi elaborated, pointing out that the Syrian Air Force Commander and the Navy Commander communicated with their Turkish counterparts after the fall of the warplane and allowed the Turkish helicopters to enter to the site of the incident, with the Syrian military boats participating in the search and rescue operations, all of which stresses that Syria has no hostile intentions and considers the Turkish people as brothers.
Regarding the Turkish government’s call for holding a NATO meeting, Makdessi said that the NATO is supposed to be an organization whose aim is to preserve security and stability and if the meeting is convened with such good intentions, then Syria wishes them success.
“We heard previous statements made by the NATO that they have no intention of military intervention in Syria. If the aim of the meeting is aggressive in nature, I want to reassure everyone that the Syrian territories, waters and airspace are sacrosanct for the Syrian army.”
On the role of the European Union in the Syrian crisis, Makdessi said that the EU has played a negative role, and that if it actually wants to help solve the crisis, it should come to Syria and inspect what is taking place on the ground, since what is happening is totally different from what the EU officials are hearing in the media.
Regarding Syria’s view of the results of Egypt’s presidential elections, he said that Syria always supports democratic choices of other people, congratulating the Egyptian people who made the decision, adding that he does not agree with those who make an issue out of the background of the president since he is now the President of Egypt.