Turkey accused Syria of opening fire on one of its military aircraft for the second time in four days on Monday, escalating an already dangerous confrontation between the two countries.
A Turkish F-4 Phantom fighter jet Photo: EPA
By Adrian Blomfield, Middle East Correspondent
A Turkish Air Force search and rescue plane was shot at by Syrian air defences as it swept the skies over the Mediterranean looking for the wreckage of a F-4 Phantom fighter-jet shot down in the same area on Friday, Turkey's deputy prime minister said.
Syria ceased fire after a warning from the Turkish military and the plane was not hit, Bulent Arinc said.
The incident came as the European Union urged Turkey to show restraint as it ruled out support for any military retaliation by Ankara.
On the first jet, Mr Arinc said that Syria intentionally shot down their jet in international airspace with a “heat-seeking guided laser missile”, adding that it was a “hostile act of the highest order.”
Meeting on the eve of an emergency session of Nato, summoned at Turkey's behest, EU foreign ministers condemned Syria's actions as "unacceptable" but attempted to defuse the potential for confrontation.
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Guido Westerwelle, the German foreign minister, called for a political solution to the crisis, saying: "De-escalation is crucial at this moment."
His Dutch counterpart, Uri Rosenthal, added: "We don't go for any interventions."
Turkey responded with fury to the loss of its fighter, accusing Syria of shooting it down in international waters without warning.
It threatened a robust response and its strong language was echoed by Britain and the United States. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, pledged to hold Syria to account, while William Hague, the Foreign Secretary, said that Damascus would not be allowed to act with impunity.
But the more placatory tone that emerged from the EU meeting in Luxembourg suggested that Nato would only offer Turkey political support when the alliance's governing body convenes in Brussels on Tuesday.
Turkish officials – speaking before the second shooting incident – said they were looking for their fellow Nato allies to step up pressure on Syria but said they were "not talking about war".
Syria insists the plane was shot down inside its airspace.
"What happened is a gross violation of Syrian sovereignty," said Jihad al-Makdissi, the Syrian foreign ministry's spokesman.
Syrian officials did not immediately comment on Turkey's latest accusation, which could complicate efforts to resolve the crisis peacefully.
The EU announced a 16th round of sanctions against the Assad regime and Mr Hague said more measures could be taken if the situation in Syria continues to deteriorate.