Conflicting reports are coming out of both Turkey and Russia this morning about whose airspace a Russian fighter jet was in when it was shot down. Russia claims the jet never left Syrian airspace…Putin is warning of ‘serious consequences’. President Vladimir Putin has accused Turkey of funding ISIS, and using its military to protect the terrorist organisation, after a Russian fighter jet was shot down near the Syrian border on Tuesday morning.
The two-pilot Sukhoi Su-24 jet was shot down by F-16 fighter planes just after 9am this morning, after it violated Turkish airspace and ignored nearly a dozen warnings by the military, Ankara officials said.
President Putin called Turkey’s decision to down the plane a ‘stab in the back’ by the accomplices of ISIS, as his Defence Ministry still claims the jet was flying over Syria and never entered Turkish airspace.
Here’s video of the jet going down:
Nato-member Turkey has shot down a Russian warplane in the first time the alliance and Moscow have come to blows directly over the crisis in Syria.
Ankara and Moscow gave conflicting accounts of the incident, which appears to have occurred in an area near the Turkish-Syrian border straddling Iskenderun and Latakia.
The Turkish military said it scrambled two F-16 fighter jets after a plane penetrated Turkish airspace in the province of Hatay at 9.20am on Tuesday morning, warning it to leave 10 times in five minutes before it was shot down.
It was unclear if the plane was shot down by the fighter jets or by ground-based defence systems.
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 defence ministry said. “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. The Turkish network CNN Turk said that one of the pilots had been captured by local Turkmen tribesmen in the area.
Shortly after the Russian intervention, Turkey warned the Kremlin that it would not tolerate violations of its airspace, after two incidents that prompted consultations with Nato.
Turkey opposes Assad and has condemned the Russian intervention for targeting rebels not affiliated with the terror group Islamic State.
Sinan Ulgen, a former Turkish diplomat who is now the chairman of the Edam think tank in Istanbul, says he is surprised an incident likes this hasn’t happened before.
“This was an incident in the making for some time as we have had some near misses in the past few weeks wher Turkey did not fully implement its own rules of engagement.”
“There were two airspace violations, and after that a very high level Russian military delegation came to Turkey to talk about it, including a top air force official. They apologised for one of the incidents, saying that in that case the Russian pilot didn’t speak the language. So we thought we had an understanding and solved the problem.”
“So it’s a surprise that it happened since that visit,” Ulgen, who is also a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “But it’s not a surprise in terms of Russian strategy. Since the intervention the Russians have been testing the Turkish response at its borders and its rules of engagement.
“In this case, the pilot was warned a number of times. First at 13 miles out from the Turkish border, and then at 5 miles out, which is when Turkish jets scramble. It went past all those thresholds,” he said.
Read more: The Guardian