Turkey says its downed fighter jet may have violated Syrian airspace after Damascus confirmed shooting it down, sparking a fresh crisis amid nosediving ties between the erstwhile allies.
President Abdullah Gul said it was routine for warplanes flying at high speed to cross borders, in comments that showed signs of easing tensions in the spat over the shooting in the eastern Mediterranean.
"It is routine for jet fighters to sometimes fly in and out over (national) borders ... when you consider their speed over the sea," Gul told reporters, stressing that such actions were not "ill-intentioned."
Turkey was considering its response after Damascus confirmed it had on Friday shot down the Turkish jet, and both countries were searching for the two missing pilots.
"An unidentified aerial target violated Syrian airspace, coming from the west at a very low altitude and at high speed over territorial waters" in the eastern Mediterranean, a military spokesman told Syria's official SANA news agency.
Anti-aircraft batteries had opened fire, hitting the plane as it was one kilometre from land and it crashed about 10 kilometres off the coast of Latakia province in Syrian waters, he added.
It had been subsequently established the plane was a Turkish fighter jet and the two countries' navies were now co-operating in an operation to find the two missing pilots, SANA reported.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said after a top security meeting after the incident that Ankara "will announce its final position and take necessary steps with determination after the incident is entirely clarified."
The incident will further test relations between the two neighbours, already strained over Erdogan's outspoken condemnation of Syria's bloody crackdown on protests against the government of President Bashar al-Assad.
The military plane vanished off radar screens on Friday morning after taking off from an airbase in Malatya city in Turkey's southeast.
President Gul said contacts were established with Damascus although Ankara had withdrawn diplomats from its Damascus embassy and expelled Syrian diplomats after the escalating violence in Syria.
"We withdrew our envoy from Syria for security reasons. This does not mean that we have no contacts (with Damascus)," he said.
Erdogan's government broke with Damascus regime after his former ally Assad launched a deadly crackdown on popular revolts that erupted mid-March last year.