Syrian forces shot down a Turkish F-4 fighter without warning on June 22nd. In a June 24th statement, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that “the United States condemns this brazen and unacceptable act in the strongest possible terms. It is yet another reflection of the Syrian authorities’ callous disregard for international norms, human life, and peace and security.”
Turkey met with NATO members on June 26th under Article 4 to consult over the downing of its plane.
Turkey has been outspoken in its condemnation of the Syrian regime and has repeatedly called on President Bashar al-Assad to step down. Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu expressed his support for the Syrian people. “This tension,” he said, “is not between Turkey and the Syrian people. There is a regime in Syria which oppresses its people.” The Syrian regime has killed 20,000 people, mostly civilians over the past 15 months.
Secretary Clinton reaffirmed the United States’ “strong support for the Turkish government and its solidarity with the Turkish people in the wake of [of the downing of the plane]. The United States will maintain close contact with Turkish officials as they continue to investigate the incident and determine Turkey’s response, including in the Security Council. The U.S. will work with Turkey and other partners to hold the Assad regime accountable.”
Turkey has been a leader in the international community’s efforts to address the Syrian regime’s violence against its own people. The U.S. will continue its close cooperation with Turkey as part of a broader effort to promote a democratic transition in Syria. This work is urgent, said Secretary Clinton, and we will be consulting in New York with the Security Council, in Brussels with NATO and the European Union, and in Geneva with Special Envoy Kofi Annan on next steps.