By Mick Krever
(CNN) – A Turkish diplomat on Tuesday gave a stark warning to his embattled neighbor, Syria. The threat came in the wake of the downing of a Turkish jet by the Syrian military.
“This type of action in the future will not go unanswered,” Namik Tan told CNN’s Ali Velshi.
In the wake of the Syrian military shooting down a Turkish jet, the Turkish ambassador to the U.S. put out a stark warning to his embattled neighbor.
Syria’s actions were “a grave violation of international norms,” he said.
Tan would not specify how Turkey would respond. But, he said, “We will choose the location, the timing, and also the methods of our reaction. That should be known.”
Speaking to parliament earlier Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that his country would change its rules of engagement toward Syria, treating any military approach as a threat.
Both governments have acknowledged that Syria shot down a Turkish fighter last Friday, but the specifics of the incident are in dispute. NATO, meeting Tuesday at Turkey’s behest, condemned the incident “in the strongest terms.”
Syria has insisted that it was justified in shooting down the Turkish jet because it violated Syrian airspace.
“The point is not that our plane is in the Syrian airspace,” Tan said. “The fact is that they have downed our airplane in an illegitimate way.”
The Turkish jet, Tan said, was on a routine training mission, with all its identification systems on, and was not given any warning by the Syrians.
“I think all the blame should go on the part of Syria,” he said.
A “different” regime
“I think [the] Syrian regime should step down,” Tan said. “Assad should stop his atrocities against [his] own people.”
Erdogan has repeatedly said Assad should step down over the past several months.
It is a call Erdogan has made many times over the past months. This is particularly surprising given the closeness of the former allies. In 2009, Turkey and Syria conducted unprecedented joint military exercises.
After 16 months of brutal crackdown, Assad’s government has turned into “a different Syrian regime,” Tan said.
The Syrian regime, he said, “cannot just continue their atrocities, their killings.”
Tan insisted that Turkey was not arming, and would never arm, Syrian rebels. “There [are] no quick solutions or magical formulas,” he said.
The only way to remove Assad from power was to support the opposition democratically, the ambassador said.
“That, I think, at the end, will stop the atrocities and would force the Syrian regime to step down.”