Russian military plane Sukhoi Su-24 jet was shot down at the Syria-Turkey border by the Turkish military on Tuesday leaving one pilot dead and the second missing. While Turkey claims that the plane had violated Turkish airspace and ignored repeated warnings, Russia however denied that the plane crossed Syrian border into Turkish skies. Terming the incident as a “stab in the back”, Russia President Vladimir Putin said the incident will have “serious consequence” for Turkey ties.
“We are looking into the circumstances of the crash of the Russian jet…The Ministry of Defence would like to stress that the plane was over the Syrian territory throughout the flight,” Russia’s Defence Ministry had earlier said.
A Turkish military statement said the plane entered Turkish airspace over town of Yaylidag, in Hatay province. It said the plane was warned 10 times within the space of 5 minutes.
Russia said the Su-24 was downed by artillery fire but Turkey claimed that its F-16s fired on the Russian plane after it ignored several warnings.
As per the latest reports, one of the Russian pilots of the downed jet is dead and the second is still missing. Earlier the ministry said the pilots had parachuted, based on a video footage of the incident that showed a warplane on fire before crashing on a hill and two crew members apparently parachuting safely.
The rebel and opposition forces have said the first pilot was killed by opposition forces, who shot at him as he landed after ejecting from the plane.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the warplane crashed in the Turkmen Mountains region in the coastal province of Latakia. The Turkmen Mountains region has been subjected to a government offensive in recent days under the cover of Russian airstrikes.
Last month too, Turkish jets shot down an unidentified drone that it said had violated Turkey’s airspace.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) that consists of ambassadors from the 28 member states will hold an extraordinary meeting later on Tuesday at Ankara’s request to discuss Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian fighter jet along the Syrian border.
“At the request of Turkey, the North Atlantic Council will hold an extraordinary meeting at (1600 GMT). The aim of this extraordinary NAC is for Turkey to inform Allies about the downing of a Russian airplane,” an alliance official told the Press.