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Syria Vows to Punish Pilots Accused of Downing Turkish Plane

October 23, 1989

CILVEGOZU, Turkey (AP) _ Syrian officials said Sunday they will punish the pilots of two jet fighters accused of shooting down a Turkish civilian airplane, killing all five crew members, a news report said.

Turkish and Syrian officials met in Turkey to investigate the case, Turkey’s semi-official Anatolia news agency reported.

Turkish officials say two Syrian Mig-21 jet fighters flew 12 miles over Turkish territory Saturday to shoot down the civilian airplane with missiles. They say all five crew members aboard were killed.

A Syrian official, Seyit Hasun, told reporters after the 4 1/2 -hour meeting in the border town of Cilvegozu that the pilots would be punished severely, Anatolia said. No further details were given.

The dispatch quoted Hasun as saying the Syrians wanted to conduct an on- site investigation. It did not say whether the request was granted.

The Syrian Foreign Ministry said Turkish Ambassador Erhan Turcel met late Saturday with ministry officials and was told Syria had set up a committee to investigate.

The ministry asked Turcel to ″convey the condolences of the Syrian government to the Turkish government and the families of the victims in this painful incident.″ It gave no details on how the plane was shot down or by whom.

Turkish Foreign Ministry spokesman Murat Sungar said the civilian aircraft was a small propeller plane doing geographical survey work.

Hanefi Demirkol, head of the Turkish delegation, told reporters his group showed the Syrians evidence including empty shell cases that showed the Turkish planes had been shot down by Syrian craft, Anatolia reported.

Demirkol said the evidence also included a tape of the Syrian pilots’ communication with their tower that showed the pilots disregarded Turkish orders not to enter Turkish airspace.

The pilots are heard on the tape telling their tower they ″hit the target,″ Demirkol was quoted as saying.

Update hourly