Syrian President Bashar Assad said
Tuesday that he regrets the shooting down of a Turkish fighter jet in late June, adding that he will not allow tensions with Ankara to escalate into war.
In an interview with the Turkish newspaper Cumhuriyet, Assad stressed that the downed F-4
was flying in a path allegedly used by the Israeli Air Force
in the past.
“We learned that (the jet) belonged to Turkey
only after shooting it down… The plane was using a corridor which Israeli planes have used three times before.
"Soldiers shot it down because we did not see it on our radar and because information was not given. Of course I might have been happy if this had been an Israeli
plane," Assad said.
Asked whether the tensions between Syria
and Turkey could lead to war, Assad said: “We will not allow (the tensions) to turn into open combat between the two countries."
He also said Syria had not amassed and would not amass military forces along the Turkish border, whatever action Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s
Turkey has heightened military activity along its southern border since Syria shot down its jet on June 22.
Damascus said it would not hesitate to apologize if it was determined that the plane was shot down in international airspace.
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