Syria shot down a Turkish warplane over the Mediterranean on Friday.
Reports say the Turkish aircraft was flying low and was inside Syrian territorial waters when it was shot down.
At DC today, US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton coveys grave concern about the downing of a Turkish F-4 fighter jet by Syrian forces on June 22.
“The Foreign Minister briefed me on the specifics of the incident, including that the Syrian military shot its plane down without warning.” -Ms. Clinton
She says the United States condemns this brazen and unacceptable act in the strongest possible terms.
She stresses the incident is yet another reflection of the Syrian authorities’ callous disregard for international norms, human life, and peace and security.
The United States reaffirms its strong support for the Turkish Government and its solidarity with the Turkish people in the wake of this incident, Ms. Clinton added.
She reports the US government will maintain close contact with Turkish officials as they continue to investigate the incident and determine Turkey’s response, including in the Security Council.
The US government will work with Turkey and other partners to hold the Assad regime accountable, she added.
Ms. Clinton notes that Turkey has been a leader in the international community’s effort to address the Syrian regime’s violence against its own people.
“We will continue our close cooperation with Turkey as part of our broader efforts to promote a democratic transition in Syria.” -Ms. Clinton
She stresses this work is urgent, and the US government will be consulting in New York with the Security Council, in Brussels with NATO and the EU, and in Geneva with Special Envoy Kofi Annan on next steps.
With growing influx of civilians fleeing from conflict, humanitarian situation in Syria continues to deteriorate.
Reports say up to 1.5 million Syrians are in need of assistance.
Last week, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that civilians attempting to flee from fighting need urgent assistance and protection.
OCHA reported that aid agencies continue to face significant access constraints to reaching people in need.
OCHA said visits by UN relief agencies to Homs and Idlib over the past two weeks have found that increasing numbers of people are leaving their homes and communities’ vulnerability is growing.
In the Idlib Governorate where fighting continues, the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) reported that 350,000 people now need assistance.
OCHA stated there is increase of 150,000 people since the Government-led assessment of the humanitarian situation at the end of March.
Communities in the city of Homs have suffered increased violence in the past two weeks, OCHA noted.
UN estimates that there are over 1 million Syrians inside Syria in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. Of that number, it’s an estimated 300,000 internally displaced.
There are over 66,000 refugees in neighboring countries and there are existing refugees, Palestinian refugees, totaling about 500,000 inside Syria as well as a hundred thousand Iraqi refugees inside Syria.
In terms of funding, the United States has dedicated some $33 million to support the important work to assist and protect those in need in Syria and neighboring countries, and much more is on the way.
US pproach is to work through international and nongovernmental organizations.
The United States commends the brave and dedicated work that the humanitarian organizations on the ground in Syria and in the neighboring countries are carrying out, including the Syrian Arab Red Crescent, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East, and the World Food Program, and many international nongovernmental organizations.
The ongoing conflict in Syria has created a severe and growing humanitarian crisis, and the humanitarian organizations currently operating in Syria are tirelessly working to get aid out as quickly as possible into areas where safety and security are questionable.
The violence in Syria, which began in March 2011 as a protest movement similar to those witnessed across the Middle East and North Africa, has claimed over 10,000 lives, mostly civilians, and displaced tens of thousands.