ANKARA, Turkey, July 3 (UPI) -- Syrian President Bashar Assad said he regrets the shooting down of a Turkish jet but will not allow tensions to turn into an "armed conflict."
"We will not allow it to turn into an armed conflict that would harm both countries," Assad said in an interview with the Turkish daily Cumhuriyet published Tuesday. "The plane was using the same corridor used by Israeli planes three times in the past … soldiers shot it down since we did not see it on our radars and we were not informed about it. I say 100 percent, I wish we did not shoot it down. ...
"We are in a state of war, so every unidentified plane is an enemy plane ... Let me state it again: We did not have the slightest idea about its identity when we shot it down."
Syria will not amass troops at the border with Turkey, he said.
Since the downing of the jet, Turkey has beefed up its military presence along the border with Syria. It maintains the unarmed jet was hit in international airspace by Syria without warning.
There was no mention in the report of when the interview took place but Assad did refer to a meeting held in Geneva Saturday under the auspices of U.N. envoy Kofi Annan.