Turks who shot Russia jet involved in recent coup: Turkish deputy PM

July 24, 2016 11:30 am

’s Deputy Prime Minister Mehmet Simsek

The Turkish deputy prime
minister says pilots involved in the downing of a Russian jet last
November had a role in the recent failed coup in Turkey. 

“I
would like to make it clear for the Russian public opinion that the
pilots who downed the Russian aircraft were later involved in the
military coup attempt. Thus, we have faced a certain secret plan,”
Mehmet Simsek said on Saturday.
The remarks suggesting that the
downing of the Russian jet was part of “a secret plan” come even as the
Turkish government vehemently defended the downing of the Sukhoi Su-24
bomber back in November 2015.
It insisted at the time that the
Turkish military was justified in shooting down the plane because it had
“violated” Turkish airspace.
Then-Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet
Davutoglu said back then that the military’s downing of the Russian
plane was “fully in line with Turkey’s rules of engagement.”
Simsek further said the downing of the Russian aircraft “was not political.”
“We
are happy that friendly relations between and Turkey are
restoring. Russia is a major neighbor and trade partner. We pay special
attention to all-out Russo-Turkish relations, not just trade, mutual
investment and tourism,” Simsek said.
A crisis emerged in
relations between the Ankara and Moscow after Turkey shot down the
Russian bomber on November 24, 2015 as it was conducting an anti-Daesh
mission in Syria. Turkey said the jet violated its airspace, a claim
that Russia has rejected.

A Russian jet plunges to the ground after being shot down by the Turkish military near the border with Syria, November 24, 2015.One
of the two pilots of the Russian jet — both of whom had parachuted out
of the aircraft — was killed by militants on the ground in Syria. The
other was rescued.
In June, Russia said it had received a letter
from the Turkish government in which the latter apologized for the
incident. Ankara denied having offered an apology, saying that it had
only “expressed regret” over the incident.
‘Sick terrorists’
In
a separate development, Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim has
described the plotters of the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey as “sick
terrorists.”
He repeated the Turkish government’s accusation
against the US-based opposition cleric Fethullah Gulen that he was
responsible for the coup, saying Gulen would see no barrier to
misinterpret religious principles to justify the bloody coup attempt.
“These people are terrorists. They are sick terrorists who abuse Islam,” Yildirim said.
Yildirim
said Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MIT) had warned the
country’s army hours before the coup attempt, but military commanders
did not take any preventive measures.
“Even the Chief of the
General Staff General Hulusi Akar was taken hostage. This is very
worrying,” the Turkish prime minister said, arguing that he is still
wondering why nobody informed him of the plot.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali YildirimTurkish
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Thursday that the death toll
from the failed coup attempt had risen to 246 people, excluding the coup
plotters, and that 2,185 people had sustained injuries.
According
to the latest judicial figures compiled by the state-run Anadolu
agency, a total of 5,613 people are held in custody over the failed
coup.
An unnamed prosecutor in the capital Ankara said early on
Saturday that authorities had released 1,200 soldiers, marking the first
key measure of its kind after the failed military coup.
Turkish
officials have launched a large-scale crackdown following the attempted
coup d’état. A three-month state of emergency has been declared in
Turkey.
Turkey’s Ministry of National Education announced in a
statement last Tuesday that it had dismissed 15,200 of its employees
from their jobs over their alleged involvement in the putsch.
The
Turkish public broadcaster TRT also reported that the country’s High
Education Board had ordered the resignation of 1,577 deans, including
1,176 in public universities and 401 in private institutions.
Sources
in Turkey’s Interior Ministry said on Monday that a total of 8,777
Interior Ministry officials had been suspended since July 16.

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