BRITISH fighter planes are on stand-by to launch an attack on Syria after Turkey pledged revenge for the downing of one of its war jets.
President Abdullah Gul announced Turkey will retaliate against Syria for shooting down a Turk F-4 on Friday.
He vowed his country would take “necessary” action against its neighbours despite admitting the plane may have been in Syrian airspace at the time it was fired at.
He said: “It is not possible to cover over a thing like this. Whatever is necessary will be done.
“It is routine for jet fighters to sometimes fly in and out over borders, when you consider their speed over the sea.
“These are not ill-intentioned things but happen beyond control due to the jets’ speed.”
A Turkish revenge strike could mean British fighter jets backing their NATO ally in an air blitz on Syria in the weeks to come.
Turkish politicians called two emergency security meetings to find out the facts of what happened before launching any response.
Last night, Syrian and Turkish rescue teams were still trying to find the missing crew of the stricken jet that crashed into the Mediterranean Sea.
Syria confirmed it had brought down the plane, saying in a statement: “Our air defences 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.”
The plane, an unarmed F-4 Phantom, went down in the sea about eight miles from the Syrian town of Latakia.
The incident further escalated tensions between Syria and Turkey.
The neighbours used to be allies but Turkey has become one of the strongest critics of the Syrian regime’s brutal response to the country’s uprising.
If Turkey decides to retaliate by force, other NATO powers, including Britain and the US, would be pressured to support them and join the attack on Syria.
Meanwhile yesterday, Syrian army forces battled rebels and shelled neighbourhoods in the eastern city of Deir al-Zor, killing at least 28 people.
The victims, who included three women and several children, died when shells hit their houses.