Turkey downs Russian warplane near Syrian border
TURKISH F-16 fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border yesterday after repeated warnings over airspace violations, causing the death of at least one pilot of the Su-24.
"The data we have is very clear. There were two planes approaching our border, we warned them as they were getting too close," a senior Turkish official told Reuters.
Russia's Defence Ministry said the aircraft had been over Syria for the duration of its flight, while President Vladimir Putin accused Turkey of "stabbing Russia in the back" and warned of "serious consequences" from the incident.
Footage from private Turkish broadcaster Haberturk TV showed the warplane going down in flames in a woodland area in northern Syria's Latakia province, which is known to the Turks as Turkmen Mountain.
Separate footage from Turkey's Anadolu Agency showed two pilots parachuting out of the jet before it crashed.
Sources from rebel groups fighting to oust the Syrian government of Bashar Al-Assad, an ally of Russia, said one pilot was killed by the opposition forces who shot at him as he landed, reported Agence France-Presse.
The second pilot might hvae been captured by Turkmen forces in Syria.
Russian military helicopters were searching for the pilots.
Russia has been carrying out strikes against insurgent groups in Syria since late September, as Nato planes target extremist groups there, including the militant Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
Turkey called this week for a United Nations Security Council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens in neighbouring Syria.
Ankara has traditionally expressed solidarity with Syrian Turkmens, who are Syrians of Turkish descent.