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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Turkish general says government has to own shooting down of Russia plane

Back in November, the Turkish air force downed a Russian jet. Afterward, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that had they known that the plane was Russian, they might have acted differently during what was about 17 seconds(!) over disputed Turkish-Syrian territory. Now, a Turkish Air Force General says - surprise - that's a lie.
Pilots of the Turkish Air Forces (THK) followed the rules of engagement as outlined by the government during the downing of a Russian jet near the Syrian border on Nov. 24 and would have been accused of neglecting their duty if they hadn't done so, a general who remained anonymous told a daily on Wednesday.
Speaking with the Sözcü daily, the general from the THK underlined that the government must accept any political responsibility as it is the government that outlines the rules of engagement for border violations, which are considered orders to the army.
THK head Gen. Abidin Ünal has been targeted by pro-government Twitter users saying that he had placed President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and the Justice and Development Party (AK Party) government in a difficult situation after bilateral relations with Russia broke down as a result of the downing of the jet.
According to Sözcü, some Twitter users tweeted after the incident that Ünal must resign as he shot down the Russian jet without orders from the president. “Resign! Otherwise, Reis [Erdoğan] will take care of you,” another user tweeted.
The anonymous general also underlined that it is a border violation when any jet belonging to a foreign nation violates another nation's air space, even for a second. “The rules of engagement are outlined by the government according to a specific time, region and purpose to protect its borders. The armed forces will automatically follow them,” general said.
“Had we known it was a Russian plane we might have acted differently,” Erdoğan said in an exclusive interview with France 24 news channel on Nov. 26. “But our pilots know the rules of engagement and have to do their duty to protect Turkish airspace,” he added.
During a parliamentary group speech of his party on Nov. 25, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the THK had carried out orders given by him personally. “Despite all the warnings, we had to destroy the aircraft,” he said.
According to the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), the Russian jet violated Turkish airspace for 17 seconds and there were no warning shots.
The Turkish General Staff said on Nov. 24 that it shot down the Russian Su-24 jet after warning it 10 times in five minutes by radio. However the Russian Defense Ministry claims it was shot down in Syrian airspace.
Something tells me that the Turks are going to be really sorry about this. On Sunday, I posted this on my Twitter feed:
I have since spoken to a neighbor who is an expert on the writings of the Vilna Gaon who has confirmed to me that the passage does exist, but he has not yet shown/told me where it is.


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