Assad Wishes Downed Jet Were Israeli

July 3, 2012  

Syrian President Bashar Assad is sorry that his forces downed a Turkish plane but added, “I might have been happy if this had been an Israeli plane.”

His comment was made in an interview with the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet Tuesday. After two weeks of silence, Assad said that the June 22 incident was a result of a mistake.

“We learned that it (the plane) belonged to Turkey after shooting it down. I say 100 percent ‘if only we had not shot it down,’” he added.

“The plane was using a corridor which Israeli planes have used three times before. Soldiers shot it down because we did not see it on our radar and because information was not given,” Assad claimed.

The downing of the aircraft sparked outrage in Turkey, which until recently had allied itself closely with Assad. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan ordered tanks to be deployed along with border with Syria. On Monday, Turkish planes scrambled near the border in the north.

Syria said at the time that it brought down the plane in self-defense and that it was downed in Syrian territory. Turkey said the jet accidently entered Syrian air space but was brought down in international air space.

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