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Why Turkey is holding back, for now, after Syria downed its jet

NATO and Turkey talked tough about Syria's shooting down of a Turkish military jet at an emergency summit in Brussels today. But they sought to calm fears of a broader escalation.


Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses the lawmakers of his Justice and Development Party at the parliament in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, June 26.

Burhan Ozbilici/AP

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At an emergency summit today, NATO and Turkey denounced Syria's shooting down of a Turkish military jet four days ago but sought to calm fears of a broader escalation between the neighbors.

Syria's shooting down of the jet was a deliberate and "heinous act" that has "changed" the rules of engagement for Turkish armed forces, Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan told parliament today. Any Syrian military approach along their shared border will now be treated as a "threat" and a military target.

At a time when Turkey is hosting political and armed opponents of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Mr. Erdogan made clear that Turkey's response was deliberate and calculated but warned that that should not be taken as a "sign of weakness."

Likewise, NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen dialed back chances of a forceful response as the alliance met at Turkey's request in Brussels. Still, he said that downing the aging F-4 Phantom plane was a "completely unacceptable act."  


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