In War-Avoidance Move, Senior U.S.
Officials Contradict Turkey's Claim that
Downed Jet Was in International Space
July 2, 2012 (EIRNS)—In another indication of the war avoidance efforts of the U.S. military led by U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, unnamed "senior U.S. officials" made a a series of statements to the Wall Street Journal that Turkey's downed jet was testing Syrian responses inside Syrian airspace.
The statements appeared on June 29 in a story titled "Doubts Cast on Turkey's Story of Jet—U.S. Intelligence, Contradicting Ankara, Indicates Aircraft Was Shot Down by Syria in Its Own Airspace, Officials Say." The article has caused a firestorm of denunciations from Turkish officials, up to Prime Minister Erdogan himself, after it went "viral" inside Turkey and was actually posted on the front pages of several newspapers. Not only has the article quoting unnamed "senior U.S. officials" embarrassed Turkey, but it has damaged the effort to use the incident to justify a war.
The article states:
"U.S. intelligence indicates that a Turkish warplane shot down by Syrian forces was most likely hit by shore-based antiaircraft guns while it was inside Syrian airspace, American officials said, a finding in tune with Syria's account and at odds with Turkey."
It quotes a "senior defense official" saying,
" 'We see no indication that it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile' as Turkey says...."
"The use of antiaircraft fire would suggest the Turkish plane was flying low to the ground, and slowly, U.S. officials said though Syria said the jet was traveling at 480 miles an hour.
"If hit by antiaircraft fire, the jet likely came closer to the Syrian shoreline than Turkey says, U.S. officials said....
"Some current and former American officials believe Ankara has been testing Syrian defenses. The version of the Turkish F-4 Phantom that was shot down typically carries surveillance equipment, according to U.S. defense officials.
"A former senior U.S. official who worked closely with Turkey said he believed the flight's course was meant to test Syria's response. "'You think that the airplane was there by mistake?' the former official said."
A Turkish government official told the Wall Street Journal that no such contradictions were ever raised by the United States or other NATO members when Turkey briefed NATO in Brussels last week.
"The Turkish official said the plane wasn't on a surveillance mission. 'All NATO members have condemned the Syrian hostile act and have supported Turkey,' the official said."