US Intel on Downed Jet: Turkey's Story Rings False

US finds plane was likely shot down while still in Syrian airspace
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 30, 2012 9:31 AM CDT
US Intel on Downed Jet: Turkey's Story Rings False
In this photo taken Tuesday, April 10, 2012, the border crossing between Turkey and Syria is seen from a refugee camp near the border, in Kilis.   (AP Photo/Germano Assad)

Turkey is sticking to its story: Syria shot down one of its jets on June 22 in international airspace, and did so far enough from Syria that the plane couldn't have been felled by an antiaircraft gun. US intelligence, however, indicates the very opposite may have happened, reports the Wall Street Journal. US officials believe Syrian forces took down the plane using antiaircraft guns that have a 1.5-mile range while it was in Syrian airspace. "We see no indication that it was shot down by a surface-to-air missile" as Turkey claims, said a senior defense official.

And while officials didn't reveal how they got their info, they did share a few more specifics: If antiaircraft fire was indeed used, then the Turkish plane was likely flying slowly and low to the ground (countering Turkey's claim that it was traveling at 480mph). It could also indicate that a local commander made the call to fire (the use of a missile would have had to come from Damascus). And some speculate the flight's path was all part of a test to see "how fast they get picked up and how fast someone responds," said US official. "It's part of training." The Journal writes that, thanks to warmer ties between the US and Turkey, it doubts the "apparent discrepancies" will chill relations. (Read more Syria stories.)

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