The Turkish military jet downed by Syrian antiaircraft batteries was back in "international airspace" when it was hit without warning after having inadvertently wandered into Syrian skies,Turkey'sforeign minister said Sunday.
Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu's comments to Turkey's TRT television directly contradict Syria's version that it downed the jet Friday less than a mile off Syria's coastal province of Latakia, in Syrian airspace.
Turkey is calling for a meeting this week of its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to discuss the incendiary issue, which has ratcheted up tensions between two nations already deeply divided over Turkey's tacit support for rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar Assad.
In Turkey's most detailed explanation of the incident, the foreign minister dismissed speculation that the aircraft was on a spy mission or may have been testing Syria's ground defenses or radar. He said the plane, with two pilots aboard, was on a routine test of Turkey's radar system.
"Our plane briefly violated Syrian airspace, but not during the time it was shot down," Davutoglu said.
The F-4 Phantom jet was hit about 15 minutes after having "momentarily" violated Syrian airspace, he said, according to Turkish news reports.
Syrian officials made no effort to contact the doomed aircraft or Turkish authorities, Davutoglu said, although the jet's identity was not concealed and radio communications indicate that Syrian authorities were aware the plane was Turkish.