Wary Turkey aborted planned retaliation for downed jet, Russian paper says

Ankara was rightly fearful of Syrian air defense capabilities, arms expert quoted as saying

Ilan Ben Zion, a reporter at the Associated Press, is a former news editor at The Times of Israel. He holds a Masters degree in Diplomacy from Tel Aviv University and an Honors Bachelors degree from the University of Toronto in Near and Middle Eastern Civilizations, Jewish Studies, and English.

Illustrative photo of a Turkish F-4 fighter jet (CC BY-Jerry Gunner, Flickr)
Illustrative photo of a Turkish F-4 fighter jet (CC BY-Jerry Gunner, Flickr)

Turkey got ready to retaliate against Syria for shooting down one of its fighter jets in June, but aborted its plans when the military’s general staff realized they knew little about Syrian air defense systems, a report published in Russian news outlet Izvestia claimed. Turkey’s generals were apparently concerned that they would come out the losers in any attempt at retaliation.

Had Turkey attempted an airstrike on Syria, Assad’s Russian-made air defense systems would, indeed, have shot down Turkish jets like “ducks,” the paper quoted Igor Korotchenko of the The Centre for Analysis of World Arms Trade, a Russian think tank, saying last week.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan maintained a tough stance on Syria Monday, saying that “Turkey has taken all necessary precautions within the framework of international law vis-à-vis [Syria’s] hostile attitude.”

Despite the military’s fears that Syria’s air defenses are capable of thwarting a Turkish offensive, Erdoğan added that “Turkey has changed its rules of engagement in order to prevent an incident similar [to the June 22 downing of a Turkish jet]. If Syria does not take lessons from these developments and continues its hostile attitude, Turkey will not avoid retaliating.”

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