30 September 2012

Turkish pilots killed by Assad: Al Arabiya on the offensive

According to Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya itself:

A special news program showcasing newly-leaked and highly-classified Syrian security documents will be aired by Al Arabiya News Channel, the 24/7 free-to-air news and current affairs newscaster.

These documents were obtained with the assistance of members in the Syrian opposition; which has preferred not to elaborate on how they got hold of them, Al Arabiya said.
So far, the first scoop that Al-Arabiya published relates to the fate of two Turkish pilots whose F-4 jet was shot down by a Syrian missile on July 22, 2012.

While it was widely suspected that it was a Russian finger on the button that launched the anti-aircraft missile, the popular belief was that the pilots died when the plane went down. The Turkish army said they found the pilots' bodies on the seabed. But now the story is changing, with Al-Arabiya receiving the documents from the Syrian opposition:
Two Turkish pilots were captured by the Syrian Air Force Intelligence after their jet was shot down in coordination with the Russian naval base in (the Syrian city of) Tartus.

The file therefore reveals two critical reports. First, the pilots were still alive after the plane had crashed. And second, that Russia held its share of involvement in this secretive mission.

The same document orders the concerned parties to treat both Turkish pilots according to the protocol of war prisoners, as instructed by the president.
Apparently Russians had their reasons for keeping the pilots alive for a while:
It also requests that both men be investigated about Turkey’s role in supporting the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the country’s main armed opposition group.
This point doesn't' ring true. Even assuming that the almighty FSB has deteriorated from the days when it was called KGB, why should anyone suspect that a mere pilot will be privy to Turkey's state secrets? There are some other questionable points in the whole story, like the method used to place the executed pilots' bodies on the seabed where they were found.

Syrian rebels are not a homogenous bunch, they include all kinds. Of course, fomenting trouble between the Assad's regime and Turkey fits the rebels' interest, and one shouldn't take anything with such doubtful provenance at its face value - until it's proven beyond doubt that the documents are legit.

The story has been already picked up by Hürriyet Daily News, so it should be making waves in Turkey by now. It should be noticed, however, that Hürriyet's editor carefully excised any mention of Russian involvement from their copy of the original article.


Brian Goldfarb said...

From the Times of Israel report: " “Based on information and guidance from the Russian leadership comes a need to eliminate the two Turkish pilots detained by the Special Operations Unit in a natural way and their bodies need to be returned to the crash site in international waters.”

Even allowing for the expanded report above, where it says "There are some other questionable points in the whole story, like the method used to place the executed pilots' bodies on the seabed where they were found", we are still left with the suspicions we started with, that the Assad regime is guilty as originally charged. It could well be that the plane was shot down where it shouldn't have been, and might have reported back some highly embarrassing info had the pilot and navigator lived.

Authoriatrian regimes don't like anyone else knowing their dirty little secretas and some of them will go to extraordinary lengths to keep it that way.

SnoopyTheGoon said...

That true, still an independent confirmation of the story would be great.