A Russian warplane has been shot down by Turkish F-16 fighter jets after it violated Turkish air space. The aircraft was reportedly flying close to the Syrian border and repeatedly ignored warnings.
Following initial reports on Tuesday that the identity of the warplane was unknown, Turkish presidential sources said shortly after the incident that the sicraft was a Russian-made SU-24.
Russia’s defense ministry denied claims, however, that the fighter jet had violated Turkish airspace. According to Russian media reports, the warplane had been on a bombing mission in Syria and crashed after it came under artillery fire from the ground.
Pilots parachute from burning jet
Video footage released by private Turkish broadcaster Haberturk TV on Tuesday showed the jet plummeting in flames into a woodland area – known to Turks as “Turkmen Mountain” – with a long plume of smoke behind it.
In separate footage, published by Turkey Anadolu Agency, two pilots were seen parachuting out of the aircraft shortly before it crashed.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office said in a statement that the Turkish leader had spoken with the country’s military chief and foreign ministry about the incident and that Davutoglu would start “initiatives” within Nato and the United Nations (UN).
Call for Security Council meeting
Earlier this week, Turkey called for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens. Traditionally, Ankara has supported Syrian Turkmens, who are Syrians of Turkish descent.
The downing of the plane came just a month after a similar incident, in which Turkish jets shot down an unidentified drone that had also violated Turkey’s airspace.
ksb/kms (Reuters, AP)