Turkey downs Russian fighter jet; Putin calls it 'stab in the back'

24 November 2015

Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border on Tuesday, inviting sharp reaction from Russian President Vladimir Putin, who called the incident a 'stab in the back' and said it will have 'serious consequences' for ties between the two nations.

The Russian Su-24 jet was shot down by F-16 fighters near Syria border after allegedly violating its airspace. It is not clear whether the pilots are dead or alive.

Footage from private Turkish broadcaster Haberturk TV showed the warplane going down in flames in a woodland area. The plane went down in area known by Turks as "Turkmen Mountain", it said.

Separate footage from Turkey's Anadolu Agency showed two pilots parachuting out of the jet before it crashed.

One of the pilots was reported to be in the hands of Turkmen forces in Syria who were searching for the other pilot, broadcaster CNN Turk reported, citing local sources.

The act was committed by "accomplices of terrorists. I cannot call what happened today anything else," Putin said at a meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II.

Turkish officials said the plane was shot down after it ignored repeated warnings over air space violations. The Turkish military did not confirm the plane's origin, but said it had been warned 10 times in the space of five minutes.

Interfax news agency quoted Russia's defence ministry as saying that the fighter jet had been downed after coming under fire from the ground, but said it could prove the plane was over Syria for the duration of its flight.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ordered consultations with NATO, the United Nations and related countries.

Turkey had called for a UN Security Council meeting this week to discuss attacks on Turkmens in neighbouring Syria, and last week Ankara summoned the Russian ambassador to protest the bombing of their villages.

Ankara has traditionally expressed solidarity with Syrian Turkmens, who are Syrians of Turkish descent.

Both Russia and its ally, the Syrian government, have carried out strikes in the area. A Syrian military source said the reported downing was being investigated.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the warplane crashed in a mountainous area in the northern countryside of Latakia province, where there had been aerial bombardment earlier and where pro-government forces have been battling insurgents on the ground.

Reports quoting Turkish officials said about 1,700 people have fled the mountainous Syrian area to the Turkish border as a result of fighting in the last three days. Russian jets have bombed the area in support of ground operations by Syrian government forces.


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