A destroyed tank in Aleppo, Syria.(LO/AFP/GettyImages)

Some, including myself, have in the past accused Syria’s President Bashar Assad of employing anti-Israel rhetoric in order to distract from his own problems. For example, during Nakba Day 2011, in an unprecedented move he permitted encouraged Syrian Palestinians to risk life and limb trying to storm Israel’s borders, which led to more than a dozen deaths, in order to take attention off a then-nascent rebellion.

Assad’s latest problem, apart generally from a nationwide insurrection that will probably leave him powerless if not dead within a year, is that Syria downed a Turkish aircraft, leading its more powerful neighbor to the west to militarize their border. Today Assad apologized, expressed regret, and offered a reasonable explanation: they thought it was Israeli! “The plane used the corridor used by the Israeli planes three times in the past,” he told an opposition Turkish newspaper. “We learned it was Turkish after we shot it down.”

In case the implication wasn’t clear enough, according to Arutz Sheva, he also said, “I might have been happy if this had been an Israeli plane.”

Well, but look, he “might” have been unhappy too, so there’s that.

Syria’s Assad Expresses Regret for Shooting of Turkish Warplane [NYT]