By Jane Nambi
Turkey has taken a step to respond towards Syria’s attack on a Turkish plane that has left two crew men missing to date.
It said it was invoking Article 4 of the NATO treaty, which provides for consultations by the allies when one of the member countries is attacked or threatened in calling for the meeting in Brussels today.
This however puts at risk involving Russia which supplies Syria with weapons According to SANA, Syria’s state news agency, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Alexander Grushko was quoted saying he hopes NATO will not take measures on Tuesday “that would aggravate situation in Syria” or prevent a political settlement there.
Russia is backed by Chinese support who are shielding President Bashar al-Assad against the efforts of the Western and some Arab nations who want to press for a settlement that would remove the Syrian leader from office as part of a transition.
Jihad Makdissi, the Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman, said the wreckage of the plane “shows holes in the tail-end of the plane which confirm that it was shot down by a ground-based machine gun, not missiles.” “Had the aircraft been over territorial waters, we would have used missiles, not a land-based antiaircraft machine gun with a maximum range of 2.5 kilometers,” he said. “All of this confirms the falsity of the allegations that the aircraft was shot down outside Syrian territorial waters.”
After the meeting, NATO secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said they considered Syria’s actions in shooting down the Turkish warplane last Friday “unacceptable.” “I would certainly expect that such an incident won’t happen again,” Mr. Rasmussen said at a news conference at NATO headquarters in Brussels. He added that the alliance would closely follow developments and “if necessary, consult and discuss what else could be done.”
Syria says the plane was shot down because it was within its air spaces, something that Turkey denies saying it was with in international space.
“Our plane was targeted not by mistake but deliberately, entirely in an act of hostility,” Mr. Erdogan said. “At a time, place and method defined by itself, Turkey will make use of its rights that derive from international law and firmly take necessary steps against this injustice.”