Homeland Security Network Blog
Vladimir Putin slams Turkey for shooting down Russian warplane near Syrian border
Syria rebels say they shot, killed one Russian pilot as he parachuted, fate of other pilot unknown
The Associated Press
Russian President Vladimir Putin has called Turkey's decision to down a Russian warplane near the Syria border a "stab in the back."
Speaking at a meeting in Sochi, Russia with Jordan's King Abdullah, Putin on Tuesday accepted his condolences on the death of a Russian pilot who was reportedly captured and dead.
Putin said the Russian SU-24 jet was shot by a missile from a Turkish jet over Syria about one kilometre away from the Turkish border, which he described as a "stab in the back by the terrorists' accomplices."
Putin warned that the incident would have "significant consequences" for its relations with Turkey and criticized Ankara for turning to NATO to discuss the incident instead of first explaining to Russia what happened.
Turkey claimed that its F-16s fired on the Russian plane after it violated its airspace and ignored several warnings.
Video footage of the incident showed a warplane on fire before crashing on a hill and two crew members apparently parachuting safely.
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Jahed Ahmad, a spokesman the 10th Coast Division, an insurgent group in Syria, said its forces fired at the Russian pilots as they descended. One was dead when he reached the ground, Ahmad told The Associated Press.
The group released a video showing gunmen standing around a blond man in aviator gear whose face was bruised and appeared dead.
Ahmad said his group would consider exchanging the body of the Russian pilot they are holding for prisoners held by the Syrian government.
The fate of the second pilot was unknown. Ahmad said rebels are searching the area of the crash for the crew member.
The North Atlantic Council, NATO's governing body, called a meeting requested by Turkey, an alliance member. "The aim of this extraordinary NAC meeting is for Turkey to inform allies about the downing of a Russian airplane," said Carmen Romero, NATO's deputy spokesperson.
Turkey's private Dogan news agency said two Russian helicopters, flying low over the Turkmen Bayirbucak region, searched for the two pilots.
"This isn't an action against any specific country. Our F-16s took the necessary steps to defend Turkey's sovereign territory," a Turkish official said in an email. The official cannot be named because of government rules that bar civil servants from speaking to journalists without authorization.
The official said the Russian plane was first warned that it was within 15 kilometres of the Turkish border, and the aircraft then crossed over Turkish territory.
Turkish officials released what they said was the radar image of the path the Russian plane took, showing it flying across a stretch of Turkish territory in Turkey's southern-most tip, in the region of Yayladag, in Hatay province.
A Turkish military statement said the plane entered Turkish airspace over the town of Yayladagi, in Hatary province.
"On Nov. 24, 2015 at around 09.20 a.m, a plane whose nationality is not known violated the Turkish airspace despite several warnings (10 times within five minutes) in the area of Yayladagi, Hatary," the military said before the plane's nationality was confirmed.
"Two F-16 planes on aerial patrol duty in the area intervened against the plane in question in accordance with the rules of engagement at 09.24 a.m."
It said the plane was warned 10 times within the space of five minutes.
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