CAIRO — Turkey’s president said Saturday that his country would do ‘‘whatever is necessary’’ in response to the downing of a Turkish military jet by Syria, adding a new complication to the tense relationship between the former allies split by Turkey’s support for Syrian rebels trying to overthrow the government.
‘‘It is not possible to cover over a thing like this,’’ President Abdullah Gul of Turkey said, according to the Anatolia news agency. ‘‘Whatever is necessary will no doubt be done.’’
Syria said its military forces shot down the Turkish jet Friday when it entered its airspace just off the Syrian coast. Syrian Foreign Ministry spokesman Jihad Makdissi said the downing of the F-4 plane was an ‘‘accident, not an attack.’’
Gul said Saturday that while the exact route of the plane had not yet been confirmed, it was routine for military jets flying at high speeds to briefly cross into another country’s airspace and that the jet’s presence over Syrian territory was not intended as a hostile act.
The plane went down over the Mediterranean off the coast of the Syrian province of Latakia and south of the Turkish province of Hatay. On Saturday, Turkish officials confirmed that parts of the jet had been recovered.
Gul said the two governments were communicating at a high level despite the absence of a Turkish ambassador in Syria since Turkey closed its embassy in March. Syria’s state news agency, SANA, reported that the Syrian and Turkish navies had established contact and were searching for the missing pilots.
Syria appeared eager to try to defuse the crisis. ‘‘We have no hostile intentions against Turkey,’’ Makdessi told the Lebanese broadcaster LBC.
But Gul’s promise to respond — he did not specify whether he meant diplomatic or military measures — signaled Turkey’s anger. Faruk Celik, Turkey’s labor and social security minister, said that even if Syria’s airspace had been violated, the Syrian response was unacceptable, according to the Associated Press. ‘‘Turkey cannot endure it in silence,’’ Celik said.
Other Turkish officials urged restraint. Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinc said Turkey was awaiting an explanation from Syria about the downing of the plane, which he said was an unarmed surveillance craft. He called for calm while details were sorted out, saying, ‘‘We should not give any credit to provocative acts and statements.’’
The episode was another blow to relations between the neighbors, who were close before President Bashar Assad of Syria began his crackdown on protests 16 months ago, setting off a revolt by political and militia groups now supported by Turkey.
On Saturday, Assad announced the formation of a new Cabinet, led by a longtime insider, Riad al-Hijab, according to state news media. But the move fell short of a pledge he made last month for a more inclusive government, as crucial ministers kept their positions, including Defense Minister Dawood Rajiha, Interior Minister Mohamed Ibrahim al-Shaar, and Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem.
The Syrian opposition boycotted the May 7 parliamentary elections, saying they were designed to strengthen Assad’s grip on power. Parliament is largely considered a rubber stamp in Syria, where the president and his advisers hold the real power.
Turkey’s prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, has been one of the most strident critics of Assad’s government and its long crackdown, which has killed thousands since it began in March 2011.
Since then, Turkey has allowed more than 32,000 refugees to seek shelter in a string of camps across its 550-mile border with Syria. It has also provided crucial support to dissident groups and the Free Syrian Army, an anti-Assad militia whose leaders live under the protection of Turkish security forces in a fortified camp near the Syrian border.
On Friday, opposition activists reported that as many as 25 men had been shot to death in the village of Daret Azzeh, in northern Aleppo Province, in what the activists described as a battle between the Free Syrian Army and members of a pro- Assad paramilitary group.
Al Dunya television, a channel close to the Syrian government, dismissed those reports, saying those killed by the rebels were civilians and not armed fighters.
Opposition activists said the bloodshed continued Saturday in cities and towns across Syria, with at least eight people killed. Shelling continued in the central city of Homs, where activists said at least one person was shot to death in the Khaldiyeh neighborhood and two others were killed in the rural suburb of Qusair.
Abou Bilal al-Homssi, an opposition activist in Homs, said that shelling had deterred the Red Cross from entering the area.