Turkish Fighter Shootdown Concerns Panetta, Press Secretary Says

WASHINGTON, June 25, 2012 — Defense Sec­re­tary Leon E. Panet­ta shares the State Department’s deep con­cern over the June 22 shoot­down by Syr­i­an forces of a Turk­ish F‑4 fight­er and two Turk­ish pilots, Pen­ta­gon Press Sec­re­tary George Lit­tle said today.

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After speak­ing with Turk­ish For­eign Min­is­ter Ahmet Davu­to­glu on June 24, Sec­re­tary of State Hillary Rod­ham Clin­ton con­demned what she called a “brazen and unac­cept­able act.”

“It is yet anoth­er reflec­tion of the Syr­i­an author­i­ties’ cal­lous dis­re­gard for inter­na­tion­al norms, human life, and peace and secu­ri­ty,” Clin­ton said.

“The [Syr­i­an] action speaks for itself,” Lit­tle told reporters, “and we believe that it was, to use Sec­re­tary Clinton’s words, a ‘brazen act’ … and the Syr­i­an regime needs to answer for it.”

Pen­ta­gon spokesman Navy Capt. John Kir­by said the Defense Depart­ment has seen noth­ing to indi­cate the shoot­down was­n’t delib­er­ate.

After the shoot­down, Lit­tle said, Army Gen. Mar­tin E. Dempsey, chair­man of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke by phone with his Turk­ish coun­ter­part, Chief of Gen­er­al Staff Gen. Necdet Ozel­to, to express con­cern over the loss of the Turk­ish pilots.

Navy Adm. Jonathan Green­ert, chief of naval oper­a­tions, also spoke with one of his Turk­ish coun­ter­parts, Lit­tle said, adding that Green­ert trav­eled to Turkey June 19–22 to fos­ter the rela­tion­ship between U.S. and Turk­ish naval forces.

Turkey has called for a con­sul­ta­tion of the North Atlantic Coun­cil under Arti­cle 4 of the NATO treaty. The meet­ing will take place tomor­row in Brus­sels. Under Arti­cle 4, any ally can request con­sul­ta­tions when­ev­er they believe their ter­ri­to­r­i­al integri­ty, polit­i­cal inde­pen­dence or secu­ri­ty is threat­ened.

The coun­cil includes ambas­sadors of all 28 NATO allies, and Lit­tle said the dis­cus­sion will be led by the State Depart­ment, rep­re­sent­ed by Ambas­sador Ivo Daalder.

“We will be present at the dis­cus­sions in Brus­sels with our NATO allies,” the press sec­re­tary added, “and beyond that, it’s real­ly for our coun­ter­parts to dis­cuss what may or may not hap­pen.”

The Defense Depart­ment main­tains a very strong mil­i­tary rela­tion­ship with its Turk­ish allies, Lit­tle said, and depart­ment offi­cials will “con­tin­ue to have dis­cus­sions with them about the equip­ment they need to defend them­selves.”

The press sec­re­tary said Defense Depart­ment offi­cials stand ready to assist the Turk­ish gov­ern­ment in the res­cue and recov­ery effort for the miss­ing pilots “if they request such help.”

U.S. Depart­ment of Defense
Office of the Assis­tant Sec­re­tary of Defense (Pub­lic Affairs)