ANKARA—Search parties from Turkey and Syria are looking for a Turkish war plane that was shot down earlier Friday. Turkey said that Syrian forces shot down a Turkish fighter jet, with official Damascus reportedly apologizing for the incident.
Turkish press sources said it was unclear exactly how or where the incident occurred, but according to statements, the military’s contact with the Turkish F-4 aircraft was lost at 11:58 a.m. local time, over the sea just off the southwest of the Hatay province, bordering Syria. The plane had taken off from the Erhac airbase in Malatya, at 10 a.m., according to Hurriyet Daily News.
Unconfirmed reports indicated that the plane was on a reconnaissance mission over Syria.
It was also not clear what purpose the Turkish jet was serving in that region, but there are unconfirmed reports that it was carrying out a reconnaissance flight. It is not known whether the plane was shot down by a Syrian jet or by a surface to air missile.
“I cannot say that it was shot down. I can’t say it before obtaining concrete information,” said Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a press conference before convening a high level security summit called after the reported incident.
According to Hurriyet, the Turkish military launched a broad search and rescue operation to find the plane. The two pilots who ejected themselves reportedly have been found.
Sources also told Hurriyet that Syria had dispatched three guard boats to contribute to Turkish efforts, as the search was taking place in Syrian territorial waters.