Turkish pilots killed by Assad forces after surviving crash

Turkish pilots killed by Assad forces after surviving crash
# 30 September 2012 02:49 (UTC +04:00)
Newly-leaked Syrian intelligence documents allegedly obtained by Al Arabiya with the assistance of members of the Syrian opposition 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 reported by Al Arabiya was allegedly sent directly from the presidential office of President Assad to brigadier Hassan Abdel Rahman who Al Arabiya’s said is 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 had crashed and that Russia was also involved in the downing of the jet.

The report said a subsequently leaked file, also sent from the presidential palace and addressed to all heads of units of the Syrian foreign intelligence said based on Russia advice, the Syrian intelligence decided to “eliminate” the pilots “in a natural way.” “Based on information and guidance from the Russian leadership comes 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.

Al Arabiya’s claims come amidst already high tensions between Turkey and Syria but Ankara reportedly questions the reliability of the leaked documents.

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 the Syrian “hostile act” will not go unpunished, and the military sent air defense systems to the Syrian border after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said any Syrian military units approaching the border would be treated as hostile.
#
#

THE OPERATION IS BEING PERFORMED