Nato condemns Syria downing of Turkey jet as 'unacceptable'

Nato condemned Syria's downing of a Turkish jet as 'unnacceptable' and expressed 'strong support and solidarity' with Turkey after emergency consultations today.

Nato Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen briefs the media after a meeting of the North Atlantic Council at the Alliance headquarters in Brussels.
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BRUSSELS // Nato condemned Syria's downing of a Turkish jet as "unnacceptable" and expressed "strong support and solidarity" with Turkey after emergency consultations today.

"We consider this act to be unacceptable and condemn it in the strongest terms," said Nato chief Anders Fogh Rasmussen. "Allies have expressed their strong support and solidarity with Turkey."

"As far as future events are concerned ... we will remain seized," he added.

However, Mr Rasmussen appeared to play down fears of a flare-up between the two neighbours.

"It's my clear expectation that the situation won't continue to escalate," he said in response to a question.

He underlined that there was no discussion of Article 5 of Nato's founding treaty, the provision enabling the alliance to fly to the rescue of one of its partners.

Mr Rasmussen spoke after the North Atlantic Council met for consultations on a request from Turkey following the loss of a Phantom 4 fighter jet shot down Friday by Syria. The two-man crew remain missing.

"It is another example of the Syrian authorities' disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life," Mr Rasmussen told a news conference.

"We continue to follow the situation closely and with great concern," he added after talks lasting a little over an hour gathering ambassadors of the 28-nation Atlantic alliance to hear Turkey's representative outline the circumstances of the incident.

"Let me make this clear. The security of the alliance is indivisible. We stand together with Turkey in the spirit of strong solidarity," Mr Rasmussen said.

Turkey requested consultations with its allies under Article 4 of Nato's founding treaty, enabling any one of them to call for talks should they consider their territorial integrity, political independence or security under threat.

It is only the second time since the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was set up in 1949 that consultations have been requested under that article, the last time in 2003 also being on a request from Turkey during the Iraqi war.

Rasmussen declined to go into details on Turkey's explanation of events to its allies.

But in Ankara, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan accused Damascus of a "hostile act" and "heinous attack" in shooting down the plane in international airspace without warning.

"We did not receive a single warning, note from Syria ...They acted without. This is a hostile act," Prime Minister Erdogan told a parliamentary meeting.

Asked what Nato might do should there be an escalation of tension between Turkey and Syria, the alliance chief said: "What we've seen is a completely unacceptable act and I would expect Syria to avoid such steps in the future."