Syria confirms shooting down of Turkish F-4 Phantom

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Syria has confirmed that it has shot down a McDonnell Douglas F-4E Phantom fighter operated by the Turkish air force after it allegedly "violated Syrian airspace" on Friday 22 June.

According to the official Syrian news agency Sana, the two-seat fighter entered Syrian airspace at around 11.40 local from the west at "very low altitude and at high speed over territorial waters". It was hit by anti-aircraft artillery around 1km from land and subsequently crashed into Syrian territorial waters 10km west of the village of Om al-Tuyour in the province of Lattakia.

Although joint search efforts are underway for the F-4E's two crew members, Turkey promises to "do what was required" in the situation.

Turkish president Abdullah Gül was reported on the country's Anadolou news agency as saying that the jet may have inadvertently strayed into Syrian airspace as part of a routine flight. There was no offensive intent on its part, he said.

Parts of the wreckage have been found, he added.

Both countries have been in contact, said Gul, despite the increasingly strained diplomatic relations between them since the start of the uprising against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad in March 2011.

"We withdrew our representatives from Syria due to security problems. This does not mean that there has been no contact," he said.

Turkey has operated F-4Es since 1974 and has 157 F/RF-4Es in its active inventory, as recorded in Flightglobal's MiliCAS database.