The United States State Department and the US military are currently gathering intelligence about Turkey’s version of the events that led to the shooting down of one of their jets by Syrian authorities last week.
According to the US findings, the Turkish jet was shot down in Syrian airspace using a near-shore surface-to- air anti-aircraft gun.
The US is claiming their evidence corroborates the version of the events given by Syrian authorities, who say the jet was shot down by an anti-aircraft battery after it was mistaken for an Israeli jet.
The confusion, according to the Syrians, was exacerbated by the aircraft being an American-made F-4 Phantom, a plane that is both marked as being made in the US the same way as the same planes furnished to Israel are marked.
Turkey’s side of the story – according to the Anakra government –is that even though the jet drifted briefly into Syrian airspace – it was shot down while in international airspace.
Turkish authorities also insist the jet was never flying at an altitude low enough for it to be shot by anti- aircraft fire or to be visibly mistaken for Israeli Air Defence.
US officials are suggesting that the F-4 phantom Turkish jet was flying near to the Syrian shoreline, explaining why Syrian forces saw it as a threat and fired.
A senior US official told the Wall Street Journal that it was no “accident” that the jet was so close to the border, or that the F-4 phantom was equipped with surveillance equipment.
The official said Turkey was doing what any air force would do if its neighbour had Russian made radar and missile defense systems: testing it.
The official, who according to the Washington Post has worked with the Ankara government, said Turkey would not be the only nation running sorties as close to the Syrian border as possible, “these countries are all testing how fast they get picked up and how fast someone responds.”
A Russian arms dealer, Anatoly Isaykin, told the New York Times in early June that Russia has been equipping Syria with a missile defense system.
The US official’s statement proffers the theory that the Turkish jet was on a reconnaissance mission that went awry.