"Measured response" not sign of weakness, Turkish premier aide says
Turkish premier's chief aide has said that Turkey's response to Syria's downing of a Turkish military plane should not be mistaken for "a weakness."
"We are against all kinds of war in the region. And that was why our response to downing of our plane was carefully designed. But no one should receive our measured stance as a sign of weakness," Ibrahim Kalin told Wednesday a Turkey conference at the Washington-based think-tank Middle East Institute via video-conference.
Kalin said the Syrian-downing of the unarmed Turkish reconnaissance plane which was on a solo training and test flight clearly showed that Syria had no respect for international law, adding that it was also a sign of the Syrian regime's growing aggression and hostility in the face its weakening legitimacy and grip on the country.
"Syria is exclusively responsible for the current state of the relations and we will do everything in our power to avoid a military confrontation along the border," Kalin said.
Kalin underlined the rules of military engagement of the Turkish Armed Forces have been revised in light of the latest developments, adding that Turkey would consider any military element approaching towards Turkish border from Syria would be considered a military threat and "handled accordingly."
"Turkey has no intention of escalating tensions in the region. But we will not let anyone test our determination," Kalin said.
Turkey's Ambassador in Washington Namik Tan said the Syrian aggression was "an unacceptable hostile act which made the Syrian regime an open threat against our national security."
Tan said the Syrian regime carried out "a disinformation campaign to distort the facts and escape responsibility," adding that radar and radio records proved that the Turkish RF4 plane was shot down in international airspace.
Also speaking at the conference, US Senator John MacCain said Turkish government and Turks "should know that their ally United States strongly stands by their side."