Reports floating around earlier today that Syria had shot down a Turkish warplane in the Mediterranean have been confirmed, with both Turkish and Syrian official statements weighing in on the matter.
Syria’s state media confirmed the downing as well, saying that Syrian air-defenses responded to “an unidentified aerial target” at high speed and very low altitude, and shot it down just 1 km off the coast. They only later discovered it was a Turkish warplane and have been working with Turkey to rescue any survivors from the crew.
Turkey has since issued a statement threatening to respond “decisively” but providing no specifics, saying that a final stance will come later. One can infer from their past reactions that this might be used as an excuse for escalation.
In April, a clash in far northern Syria saw bullets stray into Syria, wounding two Turks at a refugee camp. Turkish officials responded by claiming it was a “violation” of the border and saying that NATO was obliged to act militarily to defend Turkey’s border as a member of the alliance.
While it may be premature to speculate in this way, Turkish officials have been keen to escalate the war of words with Syria in recent days, and several NATO members, notably Britain and France, have been looking for a pretext to assert the alliance militarily into Syria. The big question must be why a Turkish warplane was speeding toward the Syrian coast in the first place.