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Turkey Live Coverage (11 July): The Russian Challenge on Syria Awaits

1610 GMT: The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) leader Kemal Kilicdaroglu criticized Prime Minister Erdogan's Syria policy:

We don't want war. You have to consider the balances in the United Nations and the decisions made by the Security Council. Syria is not Libya. If you speak without paying attention to balances of power, they will turn you upside down. You can't succeed in the international arena with such incorrect policies.

1530 GMT: Turkish Armed Forces (TSK) once again states that no trace of an explosive material was found. The statement reads:

The Turkish Armed Forces found no petroleum-like residue or trace of any organic or inorganic explosive matter on the surface of the pieces from the downed jet that were taken from the sea surface.

1425 GMT:10 kilograms of plastic explosives were found by Istanbul Police Department in the district of Kucukcekmece.

1340 GMT: According to officials, the Turkish jet might have been hit by an optic guided missile, rather than a radar-guided one. Air Force Command Operations Director, Maj. General Ates Mehmet Irez already stated that there was no sign of a Russian-made Surface-to-air missile (SAM) so far. A man-operated missile from a probably Syrian ship is considered as the reason of the tragedy. 

1235 GMT: Erdogan criticizes Republican People's Party (CHP):

[Syrian leader] Bashar al-Assad is not talking about our [downed] jet as [CHP leader Kemal] Kılıçdaroğlu is already talking on his behalf. The CHP has apparently undertaken the role of spokesperson for the Baath regime in Turkey. The CHP leader did not display a nationalistic stance on our downed jet.

1140 GMT: In the Sancak district of the Bingol province, five members of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) have been killed by security forces.

1115 GMT: Premier Erdogan has been talking about Syria, in particular the downing of a Turkish fighter jet on 22 June by Syrian forces:

Until we reached the wreck of the plane, we said that it was down not hit.

Our plane was hit in international airspace and one mile from Syrian territorial waters.

No warning was made to our plane before the incident.

It is being investigated whether anti-aircraft fire or a missile that hit the plane.

Every country's airspace is violated but there is no downing [of violating aircraft] right away.

I am calling out to those who are campaigning inside Turkey. It was a hostile attack upon our plane.

Syria Front

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu are scheduled to see Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow on 18 July, with the Syrian situation at the top of the agenda.

The Turks want to understand clearly Russia's position towards Ankara following Moscow's negotiations with Syrian opposition groups this week. Ankara also will have to address complications over the downing of a Turkish jet fighter by Syrian forces, as Russia is claiming a clear radar image of the Turkish jet, establishing where and how it was hit.

Ankara has made numerous public calls to "other states" (read as Washington and Moscow) to share their data. According to an unnamed US official, they know the details about the incident but have no intention of informing the press about them, adding that  they see eye-to-eye with Ankara "about 90%".

So the Turkish leaders have turned to Russia, but if the Syrian argument is supported by Moscow's data, showing the plane was hit over Syria's airspace by anti-aircraft fire, it is highly possible that the Russians will not work with Erdogan and Davutloglu unless there is a concession by Ankara.

Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arınc has told reporters that the "plane was not downed in Syrian airspace and was hit 13 miles off the Syrian coast", but Defense Minister Ismet Yilmaz and General Staff spokesperson Brig. Gen. Baki Kavun have stated that no evidence has been found confirming the plane was hit by a missile. Therefore, Ankara may preparing to change its argument from the claim that the plane was hit in international airspace to empahsis that the Syrians hit an unarmed plane without warning. 

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