Damascus, July 3: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has said that he regrets the shooting down of a Turkish jet by his forces last month.
According to The Telegraph, Assad said he would not allow the tensions between the two countries turn into a conflict. Assad said: “We will not allow the tensions to turn into open combat between the two countries, which would harm them both.” “We learned that the plane belonged to Turkey after shooting it down. I say 100 per cent if only we had not shot it down,” Assad said.
Assad’s comment comes at a time when Syria is engulfed in a political turmoil against him.
He also said Syria had not amassed and would not amass military forces along the Turkish border, whatever action Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s Government takes.
Turkey has increased military activity along its southern border since Syria shot down the Turkish jet over the Mediterranean on June 22. Syria said it shot down the Turkish jet in self-defence and that it was brought down in Syrian air space.
Turkey, however, had said the jet accidentally violated Syrian air space for a few minutes, but was brought down in international air space.
Assad said Syria would not shy away from apologizing if it emerged that the plane was shot down in international airspace. “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 said. “Of course, I might have been happy if this had been an Israeli plane,” Assad added. (Agencies)