An aircraft believed to be an Iranian F-4 Phantom II operating over eastern Iraq. Al Jazerra image.
This post has been amended from a previous version to include additional information from U.S. Central Command.
Iran is denying it has flown airstrikes in Iraq targeting Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) despite Pentagon claims at least some Iranian strikes in Iraq have occurred. Read More
Undated photo of a Peshmerga fighter.
Many are asking why the Turks are not doing more to enable the Kurds and their feared Peshmerga forces to more effectively attack the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL) military forces. Surely the Turks see this through the ancient ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend” lens? Read More
USS Ross pierside in Istanbul, Turkey. US Navy Photo
The guided missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG-71) has departed Istanbul bound for its homeport after completing operations in the Black Sea, Navy officials told USNI News on Thursday. Read More
Three U.S. Navy sailors assigned to guided missile destroyer USS Ross (DDG-71) were allegedly assaulted by Turkish youth during liberty in Istanbul on Wednesday, the service confirmed following a release of the video on the Internet. Read More
A soldier stands guard near the remains of Hatra, Iraq on June 22, 2013. Photo via Xinhua/ZUMAPRESS
As coalition airstrikes attempt to curb the expansion of Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS or ISIL), the radical Islamist group is digging in militarily as it is simultaneously digging out priceless and irreplaceable historical antiquities—in some cases with heavy earth-moving machinery—which it sells on the black market to fund its Caliphate ambitions. By doing so, a significant amount of ISIS assets are out of reach from traditional counter terror finance measures. Read More
The ever-growing reach of China’s navy was demonstrated recently when two of its warships sailed through the Turkish Straits and into the Black Sea for the first time. The two ships, the Luhu-class destroyer Qingdao and Jiangkai II–class frigateYantai (pictured here), entered the Black Sea on 31 July. They then veered off on their own separate visits, with the Qingdaotraveling to Sevastopol, Ukraine, while the Yantai made her own port calls at Costanta, Romania, and Varna, Bulgaria, before the vessels sailed back through the Bosporus and the Dardanelles in early August. Both ships, along with the replenishment oiler Weishanhu , had recently completed anti-piracy patrols
Photo courtesy Cem D. Yaylali
in the Gulf of Aden and off the coast of Somalia. Although the destroyer and frigate entered the Black Sea, the larger 23,000-ton Weishanhu remained docked at Istanbul. Once the ships departed the area, they made a brief stop at Haifa, Israel, before returning home to Chinese waters.
NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Tuesday rebuking Syria’s dowing of a Turkish RF-4 [NATO photo]
On Friday Syria shot down a Turkish F-4. A statement the Syrian government released that night said: “Our air defenses confronted a target that penetrated our air space over our territorial waters pre-afternoon on Friday and shot it down. It turned out to be a Turkish military plane.”
A short time later, Syria allegedly engaged a second Turkish aircraft. According to a statement on Monday from Turkey’s Deputy Prime Minister, Bulent Arinc, a Turkish CN-235 searching for the wreckage of the RF-4 came under fire by Syrian forces who ceased when warned by the Turkish military. As the wreckage of the craft was reportedly found Sunday, it is unclear when the plane came under fire or what shot at it.
Turkish and Syrian planes and coast guard vessels continue their search as the F-4’s crew has yet to be found. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an said Friday, “Regarding our pilots, we do not have any information, but at the moment four of our gunboats and some Syrian gunboats are carrying out a joint search there.”
How Turkey responds is of great interest to the region. Turkey invoked Article 4 of the NATO treaty, calling on member nations to assemble in Brussels for a meeting of the North Atlantic Council earlier today at which Turkish officials presented their version of events. As expected, the outcome was one of condemnation but no immediate military response. Following the meeting, NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen expressed solidarity with Turkey and condemned the shoot-down “in the strongest terms.” NATO also released a statement with unanimous endorsement calling the incident, “another example of the Syrian authorities’ disregard for international norms, peace and security, and human life.”