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Bodies of Turkish pilots killed in Syria shooting found

Bodies of Turkish pilots killed in Syria shooting found

Istanbul: The Turkish military authorities said Wednesday that they have found bodies of the two pilots of the fighter jet shot down by Syria nearly two weeks ago.

The bodies of Capt. Gokhan Ertan and Lt. Hasan Huseyin Aksoy were found on the sea floor, Xinhua quoted the Turkish military saying in a statement.

The US deep-sea exploration vessel E/V Nautilus found the bodies in the eastern Mediterranean, Turkish state TV reported.

Ertan and Aksoy had been missing since their plane was shot down by Syria June 22.

Turkey claims the plane was shot in international airspace by a heat-seeking or laser-guided missile. But Syria rejects the claim, saying the Turkish jet was shot as it flew at an altitude of 100 metres within the Syrian airspace.

The incident has caused tensions between the two countries.

The Turkish army altered its rules of engagement regarding Syrian military targets after the downing of the jet.

Any Syrian military vessel approaching the Turkish border will be considered a "threat," said Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a meeting June 26. The country deployed missile batteries, tanks and troops to its border with Syria last week. Dozens of military vehicles headed for the border in a convoy that included air defence systems.

Meanwhile, Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has said his country will work hard to avoid confrontation with Turkey, stressing that his country did not know the identity of the Turkish aircraft before downing it last month.

"The Syrian side had no knowledge of the identity of the aircraft before downing it," he claimed in an interview with the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet.


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