Turkey: Warplane Missing Near Syria

Turkey: Warplane Missing Near Syria

(AP) ANKARA, Turkey
A Turkish military jet disappeared on Friday while flying over the Mediterranean Sea near Syria, and both countries were searching for it, officials told Turkey’s state-run media.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment on the missing plane, which authorities said earlier had disappeared in an area southwest of the Turkish province of Hatay _ close to Syrian waters.

It was not clear if the F-4 jet went down in Syrian waters. But Turkey’s state television said Syrian vessels have joined the search for the plane.

In Lebanon, Hezbollah’s Manar TV said Syrian forces shot down the Turkish plane, citing Syrian security sources. Hezbollah is closely allied with Syria. Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News, citing an unnamed Turkish official, alleged that Syria has apologized for downing the Turkish plane. A reporter for Hurriyet newspaper also said both pilots survived the crash.

Turkish authorities did not comment on either report. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan was expected to make a statement later Friday.

Turkey’s state television said search and rescue teams have recovered a seat and parachute in the sea and helicopters also joined the search efforts. It said three Syrian vessels were also combing the area.

The plane took off from a military air base in the southern city of Malatya, local authorities said. It was not clear if it was on a training mission.

Turkey has joined nations such as the United States in saying that Syrian President Bashar Assad should step down because of the uprising in his country that has killed thousands of people. Turkey also has set up refugee camps on its border for more than 32,000 Syrians who have fled the fighting.