Russia warns against Syrian regime to avoid full-scale war; Turkey consults with NATO over downed plane; Syrian army defectors claim FSA controls 60 per cent of Syrian territory; Russia urges strengthening of UN observer mission in Syria; China reiterates
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  • According to reports, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov has warned against attempts to impose schemes for regime change in Syria, and against unilateral support for the Syrian opposition. He said that these would push Syria into a full-scale war with dire consequences for Syria and the region. Russia and China have advocated settlement of the Syrian conflict through establishment of dialogue between all groups of Syrian society. 1

    Meanwhile, according to reports, Turkey officials last week met with NATO officials to discuss the downing of a Turkish military jet by Syria earlier that week. Turkey has claimed that the jet was shot down by Syria in international airspace. 2 Wreckage of the plane was located later last week in the Mediterranean Sea; no reports have emerged about the fate of the two pilots. 3 Reports suggest that the plane entered Syrian territorial waters but was hit when it was in international airspace. Turkey maintains that Syria’s actions are contrary to the rules of engagement in international aviation and that it did not provide any warning by radio to the Turkish reconnaissance jet. 4

    Al Jazeera has reported that officers who have defected from the Syrian Army have said that the army has been suffering from exhaustion over the past 16 months and has lost control over around 60 per cent of the Syrian territory, to the benefit of the Free Syrian Army (FSA). A Staff Brigadier who was among the defectors said that the army lacks adequate services and is suffering from physical and psychological exhaustion. He also said that the increased use of planes and artillery by the army in recent months is an indication that it has lost control of substantial amount of territory. 5

    In other developments, according to reports, amidst continued escalation in violence, Russia has said that it would support the strengthening of the mandate of the UN observers’ mission in Syria, since it can play a useful role through “monitoring, exposing violations of ceasefire and through other mechanisms that are traditionally at the disposal of UN peacekeeping missions.” 6 The observer mission was suspended two weeks ago following increased violence in areas in which the mission was operating. China has also reasserted its support for a political resolution to the crisis; Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi has said that political dialogue is the only way to resolve the crisis, and called on the Syrian government and opposition to implement Kofi Annan’s six-point proposal. 7 Jiechi was speaking at a meeting of the Action Group on Syria summoned by the UN-Arab League Special Envoy Kofi Annan in Geneva on June 30.

    • 1. “Russia warns against Syria regime change to avoid "full-scale civil war"”, Interfax news agency, June 24, 2012
    • 2. “Turkey requests consultation with NATO over downed plane – agency”, Anatolia news agency, June 24, 2012
    • 3. “Turkish daily reports wreckage of downed plane located”, Hurriyet website, June 24, 2012
    • 4. “Turkish reaction to downed plane said to be long-term diplomatic, but tough”, Milliyet website, June 24, 2012
    • 5. “Syria army defectors say control 60 percent of country's territory - pan-Arab TV”, Al-Jazeera TV, June 25, 2012
    • 6. “Russia urges strengthening UN observers mandate in Syria”, Interfax news agency, June 27, 2012
    • 7. “Chinese foreign minister makes four-point proposal to resolve Syrian crisis”, Xinhua news agency, June 30, 2012