© ReutersRescue teams from Turkey and Syria are still searching for the wreckage of the plane
Nato has begun meeting in special session after Syria shot down a Turkish plane - an act condemned by Turkey as a "serious threat" to regional peace.

In a letter to the UN Security Council, Turkey described the incident as a "hostile act by the Syrian authorities against Turkey's national security".

Syria insists the F-4 Phantom jet was shot down inside Syrian airspace.

Meanwhile, Syrian opposition activists have reported fighting near Republican Guard positions in suburbs of Damascus.

There were clashes in Qadsaya and al-Hama, around 8km (5mi) from the centre of the city, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights told AFP news agency. The British-based organisation also said that security forces had entered the Barzeh area of the city.

Several casualties were reported in Qadsaya, according to the Local Co-ordination Committees.

International media cannot report freely in Syria and it is impossible to verify the reports.

Unknown intruder

In its letter to the Security Council, Ankara said the shooting down of its F-4 reconnaissance plane was "a serious threat to peace and security in the region".

The BBC's Barbara Plett at the UN says the letter does not ask the council to take any action.

Turkish deputy prime minister Bulent Arinc said the shooting down of the plane "would not go unpunished", but stressed Turkey was not seeking a military response.

PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan is expected to outline his next step when he addresses parliament on Tuesday.

Turkey, a Nato member, requested a meeting of the alliance's ambassadors in Brussels after invoking Article 4 of Nato's founding treaty, which entitles any member state to ask for consultations if it believes its security is threatened.

This is believed to be only the second time in Nato's history that a member state has invoked Article 4. In 2003, Turkey asked for Nato assistance to ensure its security in the run-up to the Iraq war.

A Nato official quoted by AP news agency said Turkey's Nato envoy would inform other ambassadors of the details of the incident at Tuesday's meeting.

The envoys are then expected to discuss Turkey's concerns but not decide on anything specific, said the official.

The North Atlantic Council - which consists of ambassadors from all 28 Nato countries - works by consensus and all members must approve any action.

'No warmongering'

Mr Arinc, speaking after an emergency cabinet meeting on Monday, called the shooting down of the jet "a hostile act of the highest order" but added that Turkey had "no intention" of going to war.
© ReutersSyria's foreign ministry spokesman said the Turkish plane appeared to be a threat
"We don't believe warmongering or provoking the crowds by being righteous is the right thing to do. What needs to be done will be done within a legal framework," he said.

Tensions between Syria and Turkey rose even higher on Monday when Turkey accused its neighbour of firing on another of its planes.

Mr Arinc said the CASA search and rescue plane - which had been looking for the F-4 Phantom jet - was not brought down.

He said the Syrians stopped firing after a warning from the Turkish side.

Ankara has said the jet strayed into Syrian airspace by mistake last Friday but was quickly warned to change course by Turkish authorities and was one mile (1.6km) inside international airspace when it was shot down.

Syria said it was unaware that the plane belonged to Turkey and had been protecting its air space against an unknown intruder.

But in its letter to the UN Security Council, Turkey says that intercepted radio communication shows that Syrian units were fully aware of the circumstances of the flight.

Relations between the two countries were already highly strained before the F-4 was shot down.

Mr Erdogan has been outspoken in his condemnation of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose government he accuses of brutally putting down opposition protests.

Alleged flightpath of downed Turkish F-4 Phantom
  1. F-4 Phantom takes off from Erhac airbase, Turkey, at approximately 10:28 local time (07:28 GMT), on 22 June
  2. Syria says the jet enters its airspace at 11:40 (08:40 GMT)
  3. Turkish military loses contact with the plane at 11:58 (08:58 GMT), while it is over Hatay province
  4. Syria says its air defences engaged aircraft about 1km (0.5 nautical miles) from the coast and that it crashed into the sea 10km (5 nautical miles) west of Om al-Tuyour. Turkey says the plane was 24km (13 nautical miles) from Syria, which under international law is considered international airspace