Syrian President Bashar Assad said Tuesday in an interview published by a Turkish daily, that he wished the Syrian forces did not shoot down a Turkish warplane on June 22. “We learned that (the plane) belonged to Turkey after it was shot down,” Assad said in an interview with Cumhuriyet published Tuesday.
Syria will do everything to avoid tensions with Turkey in order not to open warfare between the two countries, said the head of the Syrian state.
After the shooting down of the Turkish F-4 Phantom by the Syrian army on June 22, Turkey, denouncing it as a hostile act, warned that it would strengthen its security in the region while ruling out an armed conflict with Damascus. Turkey also deployed last week troops along the border with Syria as a precaution.
Relations between the two former allies have deteriorated since the beginning of the crisis in Syria which has killed more than 15,000 people since mid-March 2011.
Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has repeatedly denounced the repression by Syrian forces. Turkey hosts thousands of Syrian refugees who fled violence and members of the Free Syrian Army (FSA), composed mostly of deserters from the Syrian army.