Sunday, June 24, 2012
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Iranian foreign minister Ali Akbar Salehi urged Turkey and Syria late on Saturday to show restraint following Syria’s downing of a Turkish warplane, his ministry said.
In a telephone conversation with Turkish foreign minister Ahmed Davutoglu, Salehi said he hoped the two sides would “settle the issue peacefully to maintain regional stability,” read a statement on the Iranian foreign ministry’s website.
Iran has supported Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since anti-government protests erupted across the country early last year and grew into an armed uprising.
Meanwhile, on Sunday, Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, said in a TV interview that there was no warning before the downed jet was shot in international airspace.
He said that the planes sometimes cross over borders and that the downed plane had crossed 15 minutes before it was shot down.
The plane had no connection the crisis in Syria and was merely testing domestic radar system, he added.
Syria shot down a Turkish plane over the Mediterranean on Friday. According to a Syrian military account, the aircraft was flying fast and low, just one kilometer off the Syrian coast when it was hit.
Signals from both sides suggest neither want a military confrontation over the incident and the countries have started a joint search for the missing airmen.
Turkey has taken care not to inflame the sensitive incident by admitting its aircraft may have entered Syrian territory, adding that it may have been unintentional.
However, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Ankara “will announce its final position and take necessary steps with determination after the incident is entirely clarified.”
Turkey, a NATO member, has been a vocal critic of Assad’s brutal crackdown against the unrest.
Turkey’s softened tone regarding the downed plane and Iran’s urging for stability show that regional powers are not interested in any confrontation, and that Cold War politics still lingers behind the Syrian conflict.
Russia and China vetoing any U.N. Security Council resolution against Assad’s regime, backed by Iran and Hezbollah, have created a Cold War climate.
Washington, Ankara’s ally, not intending to widen the conflict with its former Cold War foe, Moscow, has also sounded the alarm over potential transfer of “sophisticated” weapons to Syria and that al-Qaeda can hijack the uprising happening in the country; has accumulated reasons for not taking any bold measures to topple Assad’s regime.
Reports have also emerged that Iran’s antagonist, Gulf Arab states, supporting Syria’s opposition by supplying arms and money.
With big powers still not reaching a consensus on Syria, violence, meanwhile, continues in the Levant country.
At least 16 government troops were killed on Sunday in clashes with rebel fighters in the northern province of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported.
“The clashes happened almost simultaneously at dawn,” the Observatory’s Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP in Beirut by telephone.
According to the Britain-based watchdog, the fighting took place in the town of Dara Aza, and at military checkpoints near the town of Al-Atarib and the village of Kafr Halab.
For its part, state news agency SANA reported that on Saturday the bodies of 46 military and law enforcement members were “escorted from Aleppo Military Hospital, Tishreen Military Hospital and Harasta Police Hospital in Damascus to their final resting place.”
“Solemn funeral ceremonies were held for the martyrs who were targeted by armed terrorist groups while they were in the line of duty in the provinces of Damascus, Homs, Aleppo, Idlib and Daraa,” SANA added
More than 15,000 people, the majority civilians, have been killed in Syria since the outbreak of the revolt, according to Observatory figures.
Source: Al Arabiya with agencies