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Syrian President Bashar al-Assad was quoted as saying that he regrets “100 per cent” a Turkish jet was shot down after entering Syrian airspace.

In an interview with Turkey’s Cumhuriyet newspaper, he argues that the plane was flying in an area previously used by Israel’s air force.

The plane went down in the Mediterranean last month and the two pilots have not been found.

The incident has heightened tensions between the two countries.

Last week, Turkish PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan condemned Syria’s action and described the neighbouring country as a “clear and present threat”.

Turkey reinforced border areas with rocket-launchers and anti-aircraft guns.

On Sunday, Turkey said it had scrambled six F-16 fighter jets when Syrian helicopters had approached the border.

“We will not allow (the shooting down) to turn into open combat between the two countries,” President Assad was quoted as saying.

Cumhuriyet, which published the interview on Tuesday, does not indicate when it took place but shows a picture of Mr Assad standing beside its Ankara bureau chief Utku Cakirozer.

BBC

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