Cumhuriyet newspaper quoted Assad as saying: “We learned that it (the plane) belonged to Turkey after shooting it down. I say 100 percent ‘if only we had not shot it down’.
“The plane was flying in an air corridor used three times in the past by the Israeli airforce,” he told Cumhuriyet in an interview published on Tuesday.
“Of course I might have been happy if this had been an Israeli plane,” Assad said.
He added that “We will not allow (the tensions) to turn into open combat between the two countries.
He also said Syria had not amassed and would not amass military forces along the Turkish border, whatever action Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdoğan’s government takes.
Turkey hasdeployed military hardware along its southern border since Syria shot down the Turkish jet on June 22, escalating tensions between the two countries.
Syria says it shot down the Turkish jet in self-defense and that it was brought down in Syrian air space.
But Turkey says that although the jet had violated Syria’s airspace, it was in international airspace when it was shot down.
Erdogan said Syria shot down the unarmed plane in international airspace in a “hostile” act and without warning.
Assad sent his condolences to the families of the two pilots of the downed plane, who have not been found.
“If this plane had been shot down in international airspace (as maintained by Ankara) we would not have hesitated to apologise,” he said.