One of fuel tanks found in Turkey
IAF F-15I aircraft
Photo courtesy of Israel Air Force website

Turkey quizzes Israel on warplane fuel tanks

Trukish officials ask for clarification after finding two fuel tanks on its territory near Syrian border allegedly belonging to IAF warplanes. Jettisoned fuel tanks discovered late Thursday, hours after Damascus accused Israel of bombing its territory

Turkey has asked Israel for clarification after finding two fuel tanks on its territory near the Syrian border allegedly belonging to Israeli warplanes, a diplomatic source said on Saturday.


Turkey's top-selling Hurriyet newspaper carried photographs on Saturday of what it said were fuel tanks jettisoned by Israeli F-15Is sent to gather intelligence on Syrian installations near the Turkish border.


The jettisoned fuel tanks were discovered late on Thursday in the Turkish provinces of Hatay and Gaziantep, near the Syrian border, hours after Damascus had accused Israel of bombing its territory. Israel has declined to comment on Syria's charge.


"We have asked Israel to explain what happened," a Turkish diplomatic source told Reuters.


The source said Turkish authorities were also trying to establish whether Israeli warplanes had briefly violated Turkey's airspace.


The Hurriyet report cited unnamed "experts" as saying they believed the Israeli warplanes had jettisoned extra fuel tanks in order to escape more swiftly after Syria targeted them.


A Western diplomat speaking to Reuters in Damascus on Thursday offered a similar explanation of what had occurred.


Witnesses in the area of Tal al-Abiad near the Turkish border where the reported bombing happened also said they spotted several fuel tanks.


Syria says the alleged Israeli bombing caused no casualties or damage.


Syria's foreign minister arrives in Ankara for pre-planned talks on Monday with his Turkish counterpart. Turkey will raise the Israeli warplane issue, diplomats say.


Muslim but secular Turkey is one of the few countries in the region to maintain strong commercial and security ties with Israel. The Israeli and Turkish armed forces sometimes hold joint military exercises, most recently in August.


פרסום ראשון: 09.08.07, 18:34
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