Russia’s defence ministry says an SU-24 fighter jet has been shot down near Syria’s border with Turkey.
Turkey said its jets shot down a plane after it violated Turkey’s airspace. The jet was warned 10 times in the space of five minutes over airspace violations before it was shot down by F-16 fighter jets, the Turkish military said in a statement.
Russia’s defence ministry, in a series of tweets, confirmed a Russian SU-24 had been shot down, but insisted the plane had never left Syrian airspace.
“At all times, the SU-24 was exclusively over the territory of Syria … The SU-24 was at 6000 metres and preliminary information suggests it was brought down by fire from the ground. The circumstances are being investigated.”
The ministry said preliminary information suggested that the pilots managed to successfully eject from the plane.
Footage from private broadcaster Habertürk TV showed a warplane going down in flames in a woodland area, a long plume of smoke trailing behind it. The plane crashed in an area known by Turks as “Turkmen Mountain” in northern Syria near the border, Habertürk said.
Separate footage from Turkey’s Anadolu Agency showed two pilots parachuting out of the jet before it crashed.
One of the pilots was in the hands of Turkmen forces in Syria who were searching for the other pilot, broadcaster CNN Turk reported, citing local sources.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the plane came down near Latakia close to the Turkish border. The Observatory said the plane was on fire before it crashed. There are ongoing clashes between pro-government and rebels in the Latakia countryside, and the area had been repeatedly bombed by both Syrian and Russian warplanes.
Russia has repeatedly carried out airstrikes in Syria in defence of President Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s defence ministry was not immediately available for comment.
Turkey called this week for a UN security council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens in 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. (The Guardian)