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MOSCOW, June 24 (Itar-Tass) — Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutoglu had a telephone conversation on Sunday to discuss the incident with a Turkish military plane brought down by Syria’s air defense forces, the Russian Foreign Ministry reports.
The telephone conversation was initiated by the Turkish side. In their conversation the two top diplomats “discussed the situation around Syria, including within the context of the incident with a Turkish fighter jet,” the ministry reports.
The incident occurred on Friday, when a Turkish fighter jet flew off on a mission from Erhach airbase in Malatya Province. Shortly before noon radio contact with the plane was lost, and it disappeared from radar screens. The incident took place over the sea southwest off Hatay Province bordering on Syria.
A Syrian military spokesman said the plane had been shot down by Syria’s air defense forces one kilometer off the Syrian coast, Syrian news agency SANA reported. Flying another ten kilometers or so it fell into the sea. According to the military, the fire was opened because the aircraft had violated Syria’s airspace, and in line with the law.
The incident has escalated tensions in relations between Syria and Turkey. The authorities in Ankara refrain from sharp statements, but pledge Turkey will take steps in response.
U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has expressed concern over the incident. In a press release circulated at the U.N. headquarters, he hailed Turkey’s restraint demonstrated at the initial stage and expressed gratitude to Turkey and Syria for conducting a joint search-and-rescue operation. He urged the sides to continue the settlement of the situation diplomatically.
He also said the United Nations was ready to offer any assistance that would be useful in that difficult situation.