Turkish F-16 Shoots Down Syrian Plane, Caught On Live Video
Submitted by Tyler Durden on 03/23/2014 10:04 -0400
Remember this country, the place which about a year ago was supposed to be "Ukraine" in terms of geopolitical escalations:
Well, in the aftermath of what appears a tenuous detente over the Crimea while Putin plans his next step of how to "merge" with east Ukraine as he sets off to rebuild the USSR, Syria just may be set to regain its place at the top of the global geopolitical risk pyramid. Case in point, early this morning, the fragile ceasefire between Syria and Turkey was shatered after a Turkish F- 16 shot down a Syrian plane on Sunday after it crossed into Turkish air space in a border region where Syrian rebels have been battling President Bashar al-Assad's forces.
A photo of the falling plane was caught by twitter:
"A Syrian plane violated our airspace," Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan told an election rally of his supporters in northwest Turkey. "Our F-16s took off and hit this plane. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, our slap after this will be hard,"The rebels have been fighting for control of the Kasab crossing, the border region, since Friday, when they launched an offensive which Syrian authorities say was backed by Turkey's military.Syria said Turkish air defenses shot down the jet while it was attacking rebel forces inside Syrian territory, calling the move a "blatant aggression".State television quoted a military source as saying the pilot managed to eject from the plane. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said initial reports from the area said the plane came down on the Syrian side of the border.Al Manar, the television station of Assad's Lebanese ally Hezbollah, said two rockets had been fired from Turkish territory at the Syrian jet.
Amazingly, here is a clip of a live broadcast by HaberTurk which appears to have caught the moment of the plane's crash live on video.
Why did Turkey really engage? Simple: to distract from PM Erdogan's relentless political collapse when one after another political scandal is hitting the embattled premier who last week shut down access to Twitter, and it likely set to block YouTube as well, where a phone recording of his admitting graft and embezzlement can still be found. Naturally, it struck at the one country it knows will hardly fight back against the NATO member, although now that Russian foreign policy sentiment is once again shifting dramatically, and may call for far greater support for Syria, not to mention that suddenly Turkey is hardly in "democratic" Europe's good graces in the aftermath of the Twitter censorship scandal, Erdogan may just have miscalculated.
As for the next steps in Turkey, we repeat what we said on Friday: "We eagerly look forward to see which particular pro-Western agent is groomed to take Erdogan's place. After all remember: those Qatari gas pipelines that in a parallel universe, one without Putin, would have already been transporting nat gas under Syria, would enter Europe under Turkey."
Surely following yet another "chess" victory by Putin in the foreign relations arena, the urgency to find that Qatari natgas outlet to Europe is that much greater...
Turkey downs Syrian jet near border 'for airspace violation'
Published time: March 23, 2014 12:42
A Syrian military jet has been shot down near the Syrian-Turkish border. While reports claimed that the jet was fired at by Turkish anti-aircraft system after it violated airspace, Ankara has not confirmed the allegations.
DETAILS TO FOLLOW
Turkey shoots down Syrian regime plane after violating airspace, PM confirms
Fierce fighting was still under way March 23 at the Kasab crossing. AA photo
"A Syrian plane violated our airspace, our F-16 took off and shot it down," Erdoğan said while addressing his supporters in Kocaeli.
"I congratulate our chief of general staff and our pilots," he added.
Shortly after Erdoğan's words, Damascus also confirmed that the plane was shot down by Turkey.
The plane crashed in the buffer zone between the borders separating Syria's Latakia region and Hatay's Samandağ district, where fighting had been ongoing for three days, Doğan News Agency reported. Kasab is the westernmost border crossing between Turkey and Syria.
Turkish warplanes had downed a Syrian helicopter Sept. 16, 2013, which Ankara said was detected two kilometers inside Turkish airspace. Turkey changed its rules of engagement after the downing of one of its fighter jets by the Syrian Air Force in June 2012.
The incident occurred as fighting raged for the control of the Kasab crossing, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.
"Fighters from [the Al-Qaeda-affiliated] al-Nusra Front and other groups have attacked the crossing and forced out regime forces and national defence auxiliaries," Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman said.
On Tuesday, Al-Nusra and Islamist groups Sham al-Islam and Ansar al-Sham announced the launch of an offensive dubbed "Anfal" in Latakia province.
The province, which includes President Bashar al-Assad's family village, is considered a regime stronghold, and many residents are from his Alawite minority.
"Significant military reinforcements have been sent to the government forces," said the Observatory, which relies on a network of activists and medical sources on the ground for its reports.
It said that nearly 80 fighters on both sides have been killed since March 21.
On March 22, the fighting spread to other areas of Latakia province, mainly villages under the control of the regime, which responded with air raids and ambushes, killing at least 20 rebels and wounding 30.
The fighting at Kasab prompted al-Assad's government to complain to the United Nations that Turkey was providing cover to rebels crossing the border from its territory.
Elsewhere on Saturday, in and around former commercial capital Aleppo in the north, rebels seized a strategic hill overlooking the regime-held west of the city, the Observatory said.
They also briefly cut the road to Aleppo airport. The Observatory said that among those killed in Saturday's clashes - which claimed the lives of at least 50 rebels and 26 loyalists - was the head of the Presidential Guard in Aleppo, Colonel Abbas Samii.
(Reuters) - Islamist fighters in Syria battled President Bashar al-Assad's forces for control of a border crossing with Turkey close to the Mediterranean on Saturday, part of an offensive aimed at opening up a rebel link to the sea.
They said heavy clashes continued around Kasab crossing and a nearby village of the same name - both about 5 miles from the coast - a day after rebels launched their assault.
Assad's forces have already lost control of most border crossings with Turkey during the three year civil war but had held on to Kasab, gateway to the coastal province of Latakia which has remained an Assad stronghold.
In recent months, the president's forces have also made gains around the capital Damascus and the border region with Lebanon, seizing two rebel bases in the last week.
Syrian authorities accused Turkey of helping the fighters launch their attack on Kasab from Turkish territory, saying Ankara's army "provided cover for this terrorist attack" on the wooded and hilly border region.
Turkey and Gulf Arab states have backed the mainly Sunni Muslim rebels against Assad, who is from the minority Alawite sect and is supported by Iran and Shi'ite fighters from Iraq and the Lebanese militia Hezbollah.
The attack on Kasab was carried out by fighters from the Nusra Front, al Qaeda's Syrian operation, and the Islamist Ahrar al-Sham brigade, part of the Islamic Front alliance.
The Islamic Front said its fighters repelled advances by the army and pro-Assad militia to retake the "liberated" crossing, posting a video of khaki-clad fighters wearing red armbands and firing at what it said were the government forces.
The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors the Syrian conflict, said the rebels had "in principle" taken control of the crossing itself, although fighting continued in the area and Assad's forces were still in control of Kasab village, barely a mile (two km) to the northwest.
"The rebels are trying to open a corridor to the sea, so they can get weapons shipments," said Rami Abdelrahman, the Observatory's director. He said 13 rebels, some of them foreigners, were killed on Friday along with 16 soldiers and pro-Assad militia fighters. Five civilians also died.
FEARS OF PARTITION
More than 140,000 people have been killed in the conflict, while 2.5 million refugees have fled to neighboring countries and millions more need humanitarian aid.
With the erosion of state power, Syria has also become increasingly fragmented, with the Assad holding the center of the country, rebels controlling much of the north and east, and Kurds taking steps towards autonomy in the northeast.
That prospect has alarmed many of Syria's neighbors.
"All the scenarios of partition in Syria will have disastrous results for Syria and the region," Jordan's King Abdullah told Al-Hayat newspaper in an interview published on Saturday.
"This will unleash endless waves of violence, hate and extremism which threaten to deepen civil war and sectarian fighting," the monarch said, warning it would spread across borders and threaten regional stability.
The turmoil in Syria has already spilled over into neighboring Lebanon, where car bombs have struck Beirut and other cities. Eleven people were killed on Friday in the northern city of Tripoli.
Islamist fighters in Iraq's western province of Anbar, which borders eastern Syria, have also been battling Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's forces.
On Saturday, Syrian state media said an army unit east of Damascus had ambushed a group of Nusra Front fighters who had infiltrated from Jordan. Syrian television showed the bodies of around a dozen men lying on the ground, some with weapons.