Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday he could not confirm whether Syria had admitted to shooting down a Turkish warplane in the Mediterranean.
While reports circulated that Syria had apologized for the incident, claiming it was a mistake, Erogan told a press conference in Ankara that he had no firm information on the apology.
He also said he could not confirm whether the plane had been shot down or crashed.
Earlier, the Turkish army said it lost radar and radio contact with one of its aircrafts on the Mediterranean near neighboring Syria, and a television station said it had crashed in Syrian territorial waters.
The conflicting, or perhaps extra cautious, statements from the Turkish PM came after Erdogan was reportedly quoted by Haberturk daily newspaper earlier on Friday as saying: "Syria immediately offered a very serious apology for the incident and admitted it was a mistake."
He had also been quoted by the paper as saying the two pilots of the Turkish F-4 fighter jet were alive after the incident.
“At this moment the air force and navy are conducting search and rescue operations in the western Mediterranean and luckily our pilots are alive, we have just lost a plane,” he told journalists while travelling back from Brazil.
But in Ankara, Erdogan told reporters there is no news on the pilots and Turkish ships and helicopters were searching for the missing pilots together with Syrian ships.
He also said he has no information on claims Turkish jet pilots have been captured by Syria.
Meanwhile, Lebanon’s Hezbollah-owned Al-Manar television station said that Syrian air defenses shot down the Turkish military aircraft, quoting Syrian security sources.
“Syrian security sources confirmed to a Manar correspondent in Damascus that Syrian defense forces shot down the Turkish fighter jet,” the Hezbollah-owned channel said.
Turkey, which had drawn close to Syria before the uprising against Assad, became one of the Syrian leader’s fiercest critics.
"Most importantly, Erdogan said that Turkey was a member of NATO, and if [the plane's downing] were an attack on NATO, then it would be NATO who would make a response," said Al Jazeera's Anita McNaught, reporting from Istanbul.
"But there are a lot of unanswered questions," our correspondent said, adding that if Syria had been involved in shooting down the plane, "it would have been by far the most serious engagement on the Turkish border by a wide, wide margin".
NATO-member Turkey, which had drawn close to Syria before the uprising against Assad, turned against the Syrian leader when he responded violently to pro-democracy protests inspired by popular upheavals elsewhere in the Arab world.
Ankara has previously floated the possibility of setting up some kind of safe haven or humanitarian corridor inside Syria, which would entail military intervention, but has said it would undertake no such action without U.N. Security Council approval.
Turkey said it had lost contact with one of its military aircraft off its southeastern coast, and a television station said it had crashed in Syrian territorial waters.
The plane took off from Malatya airbase in the southeast at 0730 GMT and lost communication with the base at 0858 GMT in the southwest of the Hatay province bordering Syria, the military command said in a statement posted online.
“Search and rescue efforts have started immediately,” it said.
CNN Turk television said Turkey was in contact with the Syrian authorities to get permission to conduct a search for the airmen, although there was no immediate official confirmation.
The Turkish government called an emergency security meeting when the military plane went missing near Syria.
Erdogan and top military and intelligence chiefs are set to attend the meeting to discuss the fate of the plane, Anatolia news agency reported.
The Hurriyet daily newspaper reported that the plane had gone down in international waters and that the two airmen had been found alive and well following a search operation by Turkish forces.
The Chief of General Staff declined to comment further on the incident beyond the written statement.
Turkish warplanes regularly patrol along and off Turkey's southern Mediterranean coast.
Pro-Iranian Al-Mayadeen television station, which is based in Lebanon, quoted what it said were Turkish sources as saying a jet had been shot down by Syrian air defenses near the border with Turkey. There was no confirmation of that report.