, ANKARA, Jul 3 – Syrian President Bashar al-Assad regretted that his country’s defence forces shot down a Turkish fighter jet on June 22, he said in an interview with the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet published Tuesday.
“The plane was flying in an air corridor used three times in the past by the Israeli airforce,” he said, but added that he regretted the incident — which has further fuelled tensions between the two former allies — “100 percent”.
Assad rejected Turkey’s accusations that the Syrian defence forces intentionally shot down the Turkish F-4 jet, which was on a training mission over the Mediterranean.
“A country at war always acts like this, this plane was flying at a very low altitude and was shot down by anti-aircraft defences which mistook it for an Israeli plane, which attacked Syria in 2007.”
He said the soldier who shot down the plane had no radar and could not know to which country the plane belonged.
Assad sent his condolences to the families of the two pilots of the downed plane, who have not been found.
“If this plane had been shot down in international airspace (as maintained by Ankara) we would not have hesitated to apologise,” he said.