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Turkey to help 'liberate the Syrians from dictatorship'

Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, on Tuesday.
Turkey's Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, on Tuesday.Cem Ozdel / EPA

Turkey’s prime minister said Tuesday that his country would offer all possible support “to liberate the Syrians from dictatorship,” as NATO condemned Syria for shooting down a Turkey military jet.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey – a member of NATO – had changed the rule of engagement for its military and would now respond to any violation of the Syrian border.

Turkey would not engage in war-mongering, but the attack on the reconnaissance jet, which was deliberately targeted, would not be left unanswered, Erdogan said in a speech to his ruling AK Party deputies in parliament.

“However valuable Turkey's friendship is, its wrath is just as strong. Don't take our common sense and cautious approach as a sign of passivity,” Erdogan said, according to Turkish newspaper Zaman.

“The Syrian administration is tyrannical and not just. Turkey will be in solidarity with our brothers in Syria until a new regime is in place,” he added. “Turkey will be in solidarity with our brothers in Syria until a new regime arrives.”

“We will offer all the possible support to liberate the Syrians from dictatorship,” Erdogan said.

Turkish border a crucial link in Syrian conflict 

Meanwhile, ambassadors of NATO's 28 member states met in Brussels on Tuesday to consult with Turkey on the incident after it called for the meeting.

Turkey seeks NATO action over Syria jet downing

"NATO allies have expressed strong condemnation of this completely unacceptable act," NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said after the gathering.

Report: Syrian general, dozens of other soldiers defect to Turkey

Rasmussen said NATO security was "indivisible", but he said NATO's Article 5 -- which calls for member states to see an attack on one country as an attack on all the alliance's members -- had not been discussed.

"We stand together with Turkey in spirit of solidarity," he said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

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