Turkey begins rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns deployment along its border with Syria after last week’s downing of a fighter jet.
Columns of military vehicles have been seen moving from military bases to the border, close to where the jet crashed.
The F-4 Phantom went down in the sea after entering Syrian airspace and being hit by a missile. The pilots are missing.
Meanwhile, explosions have been reported outside a court complex in central Damascus.
Syrian state TV said there had been a “terrorist explosion” in the car park of the palace of justice and witnesses spoke of a thick plume of smoke in the area.
There was no word of casualties but opposition activists said ambulances were heard heading to the scene.
There are also reports of clashes in the Damascus suburb of Douma, where activists say four people have been killed.
Turkey begins rocket launchers and anti-aircraft guns deployment along its border with Syria after last week’s downing of a fighter jet
Turkey’s decision to reinforce its border with Syria comes two days after PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced a change in terms of its military engagement.
He told parliament that Syria was a “clear and present threat” and any game that is dangerous and “military element” that approached the Turkish border from Syria would be treated as a threat and a military target.
Extra troops have been sent to the area and Turkish TV has shown pictures of a small convoy of trucks carrying anti-aircraft guns into a military base near the border town of Yayladagi.
According to local reports, other military vehicles have travelled to the border town of Reyhanli in Hatay province.
More than 33,000 refugees have fled Syria and have crossed the border into the province.
Turkish President Abdullah Gul is due to discuss the heightened tensions with Syria at a National Security Council meeting on Thursday.
Russia and other major powers are considering a proposal from UN envoy Kofi Annan for a national unity government to lead political change in Syria.
Moscow has agreed to back the plan which, according to Western diplomats, proposes a cabinet including members of the opposition and government, but no-one who would undermine its credibility.
The idea will be discussed on Saturday by the UN Action Group on Syria.
Although Western diplomats say President Bashar al-Assad would not be part of any unity government, his future role in Syria is not spelled out in Kofi Annan’s proposal.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Thursday that President Bashar al-Assad’s future had to be decided through a “Syrian dialogue by the Syrian people themselves”, adding that Saturday’s Geneva conference could not dictate the terms of a unity government.
President Bashar al-Assad has described Syria as being in a “real state of war” and the UN’s deputy envoy to Syria said on Wednesday that the violence “had reached or even surpassed” the levels seen in April when Kofi Annan’s ceasefire plan was agreed.
The UN says at least 10,000 people have been killed since pro-democracy protests began in March 2011. In June, the Syrian government reported that 6,947 Syrians had died, including at least 3,211 civilians and 2,566 security forces personnel.
NATO members will meet in emergency session after Syria shot down Turkish F-4 Phantom warplane.
The act is condemned by Turkey as a “serious threat” to regional peace.
In a letter to the UN Security Council, Turkey described the incident as a “hostile act by the Syrian authorities against Turkey’s national security”.
Turkey’s deputy prime minister said it “would not go unpunished”, but stressed it was not seeking military action.
Damascus insists the F-4 Phantom jet was shot down inside Syrian airspace.
In the letter to the Security Council, Ankara said the shooting down of its F-4 reconnaissance plane was “a serious threat to peace and security in the region”.
The letter does not ask the council to take any action.
Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to outline his next step when he addresses parliament on Tuesday.
NATO members will meet in emergency session after Syria shot down Turkish F-4 Phantom warplane
Turkey, a NATO member, has requested a meeting of the alliance’s ambassadors in Brussels after invoking Article 4 of NATO’s founding treaty, which entitles any member state to request consultations if it believes its security is threatened.
This is believed to be only the second time in NATO’s history that a member state has invoked Article 4. In 2003, Turkey asked for NATO assistance to ensure its security in the run-up to the Iraq war.
A NATO official quoted by AP news agency said Turkey’s NATO envoy would inform other ambassadors of the details of the incident at Tuesday’s meeting.
The envoys are then expected to discuss Turkey’s concerns but not decide on anything specific, said the official.
The North Atlantic Council – which consists of ambassadors from all 28 NATO countries – works by consensus and all members must approve any action.
Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc, speaking after an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday, called the shooting down of the jet “a hostile act of the highest order”.
He vowed that Syria would “not go unpunished” but added that Turkey had “no intention” of going to war.
“We don’t believe warmongering or provoking the crowds by being righteous is the right thing to do. What needs to be done will be done within a legal framework,” he said.
Tensions between Syria and Turkey rose even higher on Monday when Turkey accused its neighbor of firing on another of its planes.
Bulent Arinc said the CASA search and rescue plane – which had been looking for the F-4 Phantom jet – was not brought down.
He said the Syrians stopped firing after a warning from the Turkish side.
Ankara has said the jet strayed into Syrian airspace by mistake last Friday but was quickly warned to change course by Turkish authorities and was one mile (1.6 km) inside international airspace when it was shot down.
Syria said it was unaware that the plane belonged to Turkey and had been protecting its air space against an unknown intruder.
But in its letter to the UN Security Council, Turkey says that intercepted radio communication shows that Syrian units were fully aware of the circumstances of the flight.
Relations between the two countries were already highly strained before the F-4 was shot down.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been outspoken in his condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose government he accuses of brutally putting down opposition protests.
Turkey has called a NATO meeting to discuss its response to the shooting down of one of its warplanes by Syrian forces on Friday.
Ankara has invoked Article 4 of NATO’s charter, under which consultations can be requested when an ally feels their security is threatened, officials say.
Earlier, Turkey’s foreign minister said the F-4 Phantom was in international airspace when it was shot down.
Syria has insisted the jet was engaged while it was inside its airspace.
It has also said no act of hostility was intended, noting that as soon as the military discovered the “unidentified” aircraft was Turkish its navy joined efforts to rescue the two crew members.
The Turkish foreign ministry said it knew the coordinates of the jet, which was in Syrian territorial waters at a depth of 1,300 m (4,265 ft), but has not yet found it.
The coast guard is still searching for the crew in the Mediterranean Sea, though hopes are fading of them being found alive.
The government has also issued a diplomatic protest note to Syria.
NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu said the North Atlantic Council, the principal political decision-making body within the military alliance, would meet in Brussels on Tuesday to discuss the incident.
“Turkey has requested consultations under Article 4 of NATO’s founding Washington Treaty,” she told Reuters.
“Under article 4, any ally can request consultations whenever, in the opinion of any of them, their territorial integrity, political independence or security is threatened.”
Turkey wants to be sure of the strongest backing once it decides its official response.
Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu became the first senior Turkish official to challenge Syria's account of the downing of the jet
The government has promised that it will be strong, decisive and legitimate, and that it will share all the information it has with the public.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu became the first senior Turkish official to challenge Syria’s account of the downing of the jet.
After lengthy meetings with military chiefs, he told TRT state television that the unarmed jet had “momentarily” entered Syrian airspace by mistake on Friday but had left when it was shot down 15 minutes later.
“According to our conclusions, our plane was shot down in international airspace, 13 nautical miles (24 km) from Syria,” he said.
According to international law, a country’s airspace extends 12 nautical miles (22.2 km) from its coastline, corresponding with its territorial waters.
Ahmet Davutoglu also insisted that the jet had not been on a “covert mission related to Syria” but had instead been carrying out a training flight to test Turkey’s radar capabilities.
He said the plane had not “shown any hostility”, been clearly marked as Turkish, and that he did not agree with the Syrian military’s statement that it had not known to whom it belonged.
The Turkish military said it lost radio contact with the F-4 Phantom at 11:58 (08:58 GMT) on Friday while it was flying over Hatay province, about 90 minutes after it took off from Erhac airbase in the province of Malatya, to the north-west.
Later, the Syrian military said an “unidentified air target” had penetrated Syrian airspace from the west at 11:40 local time (08:40 GMT), travelling at very low altitude and at high speed.
It said that in line with the laws prevailing in such cases, Syrian air defences engaged the craft, and scored a direct hit about 1 km (0.5 nautical miles) from its coastline.
It burst into flames, and crashed into the sea at a point 10 km (5 nautical miles) from the village of Om al-Tuyour, off the coast of Latakia province, well within Syrian territorial waters, the statement added.
Relations between NATO-member Turkey and Syria, once close allies, have deteriorated sharply since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011. More than 30,000 Syrian refugees have fled the violence across the border into Turkey.
The Syrian military has confirmed that it shot down Turkish warplane F-4 Phantom “flying in airspace over Syrian waters”.
A spokesman said the plane was dealt with “according to the laws that govern such situations”, the state news agency Sana said.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his country would “take the necessary steps” once all the facts were known.
The Turkish and Syrian navies are meanwhile engaged in a joint search for the two missing crew members.
The F-4 Phantom disappeared over the Mediterranean, south-west of Turkey’s Hatay province, near the Syrian coast.
The Turkish military said it lost radio contact with the F-4 at 11:58 local time while it was flying over Hatay, about 90 minutes after it took off from Erhac airbase in the province of Malatya, to the north-west.
A Syrian military statement said that an “unidentified air target” had penetrated Syrian airspace from the west at 11:40 local time, travelling at very low altitude and at high speed.
It said that in line with the laws prevailing in such cases, Syrian air defenses engaged the craft, and scored a direct hit about 1km (0.6 miles) from its coastline.
It burst into flames, and crashed into the sea at a point 10 km (6 miles) from the village of Om al-Tuyour, off the coast of Latakia province, well within Syrian territorial waters, the statement added.
The Syrian military has confirmed that it shot down Turkish warplane F-4 Phantom "flying in airspace over Syrian waters
Syrian television showed a map charting the aircraft’s movements, coming in from over the sea near northern Cyprus.
The statement said that after it “became clear the target was a Turkish military plane which had entered our airspace”, the naval commands of the two countries were in touch, and a joint operation was going on to find the missing crew members.
Earlier on Friday evening, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan held a two-hour emergency meeting with his interior, defense and foreign ministers and the Chief of the General Staff, Gen Necdet Ozel.
“As a result of information obtained from the evaluation of our concerned institutions and from within the joint search and rescue operations with Syria, it is understood that our plane was brought down by Syria,” Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s office said in a statement afterwards.
“Turkey will present its final stance after the incident has been fully brought to light and decisively take the necessary steps.”
A spokesman for the UN Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, said he was following the situation closely.
“He hopes this serious incident can be handled with restraint by both sides through diplomatic channels,” Martin Nesirky told reporters.
Given the breakdown in relations between the two countries over the Syrian conflict, this incident has the potential to provoke a serious crisis.
Much will depend on whether or not the Turkish pilots have survived.
If not, public anger might push the government into some kind of punitive action against Syria, he adds.
Relations between NATO-member Turkey and Syria, once close allies, have deteriorated sharply since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.
Tens of thousands of Syrian refugees have fled the violence across the border into Turkey.
Inside Syria, the violence continued on Thursday with state media reporting that “armed terrorist groups” had abducted and massacred 25 villagers in Aleppo province.
Activists said that rebels had shot dead 26 government supporters who were believed to be militiamen.
In Aleppo city, activists said a number of people died when security forces opened fire on a demonstration after Friday prayers.
Meanwhile, international envoy Kofi Annan has said it is time for the world to exert greater pressure to help bring the violence in Syria to an end.
Kofi Annan called for Iran to be involved in attempts to end the violence, a proposal put forward by Russia but rejected by the US.
In a separate development, UK government officials have decided to prevent the head of the Syrian Olympic Committee, Gen Mowaffak Joumaa, from travelling to London for the Games.
The visa ban is believed to be linked to his relationship to President Bashar al-Assad’s government.
Turkish government has called an emergency security meeting amid reports that one of its fighter jets was shot down by Syrian security forces.
The Turkish military earlier said it had lost contact with an F-4 Phantom over the Mediterranean Sea on Friday morning, south-west of Hatay province.
It did not confirm reports that Syrian air defense forces were responsible.
But local media are quoting Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan as saying “the other side has expressed regret”.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan also revealed that the two crew members were safe.
Turkish government has called an emergency security meeting amid reports that one of its fighter jets was shot down by Syrian security forces
Relations between Turkey and Syria, once close allies, have deteriorated sharply since the uprising against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad began in March 2011.
The Turkish military said it lost radio contact with the F-4 at 11:58 local time on Friday while it was flying over Hatay, about 90 minutes after it took off from Erhac airbase in the province of Malatya, to the north-west.
“Search-and-rescue efforts have started immediately,” a statement said.
The private news channel, NTV, later cited unnamed military sources as saying that the plane had crashed off Hatay’s Mediterranean coast, in Syrian territorial waters, but that there had been no border violation.
The Turkish and Syrian coast guards were collaborating in the search for the two crew members and the plane, NTV reported.
Witnesses in the Syrian coastal city of Latakia meanwhile said Syrian air defenses had shot down an unidentified aircraft near the town of Ras al-Basit.
Lebanon’s al-Manar television channel – controlled by Lebanon’s Hezbollah Shia movement, an ally of the Syrian government – also reported that Syrian security sources had said that “Syrian air defenses shot down a Turkish warplane and hit another in Syrian airspace”.
There was no immediate confirmation from Turkish officials, but later it was announced that Recep Tayyip Erdogan would be holding an emergency meeting with his top military and intelligence chiefs to discuss the missing plane.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan was also said to have told Turkish reporters on a flight back from Brazil that “the other side have expressed regret” over the downing of the F-4, and also that the pilots had been recovered.