…after 10 warnings in 5 minutes
Today U.S. officials confirmed that the Turkish military fired upon a Russian jet when it repeatedly violated Turkish airspace near the Turkey-Syria border.
The jet crash landed in the Jabal Turkmen area of the coastal Syrian province of Latakia, and it is now believed that both pilots have died under fire from rebel Turkmen forces.
More via Fox News:
U.S. defense official said that two Turkish F-16s fired heat-seeking air-to-air missiles at the Russian aircraft.
“This will get complicated,” the official said.
Tuesday’s incident is the first time since the 1950s that a Russian or Soviet military aircraft has been publicly acknowledged to have been shot down by a NATO country, according to Reuters. Russia’s main stock index dropped more than 2 percent after the incident, while Turkish stocks fell 1.3 percent amid fears of an escalation between the two countries.
Russia said the Su-24 was downed by artillery fire, but Turkey claimed that its F-16s fired on the Russian plane after it ignored the warnings.
Fox has posted amateur video claiming to show the crash:
The BBC used information from the Turkish Defence Ministry to sketch out what reportedly happened:
According to the Turkish military, officials warned “an unidentified aircraft” ten times over the course of five minutes that its path would violate Turkish airspace over the border town of Yayladagi, in Hatay province. A spokesman for U.S. officials leading the coalition from Baghdad confirmed that his team heard Turkish officials give those warnings over “open channels.”
NATO called an emergency meeting today to address rapidly escalating tensions between Turkey and Russia, where Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg stood in solidarity with Turkey:
I have previously expressed my concerns about the implications of the military actions of the Russian Federation close to NATO’s borders.
This highlights the importance of having and respecting arrangements to avoid such incidents in the future.
As we have repeatedly made clear, we stand in solidarity with Turkey and support the territorial integrity of our NATO Ally, Turkey.
We will continue to follow the developments on the South-Eastern borders of NATO very closely.
I look forward to further contacts between Ankara and Moscow and I call for calm and de-escalation.
Diplomacy and de-escalation are important to resolve this situation.
Vladimir Putin, however, quickly turned the tables on the Turks, claiming that the actions of the Turkish military were directly related to coalition efforts to back Syrian rebels against the Assad regime.
From the BBC:
President Putin described the downing as “a stab in the back by the accomplices of terrorists”, an apparent reference to Turkey’s support of Syrian rebel groups seeking to overthrow Mr Assad.
“Our pilots, our aircraft posed no threat to the Republic of Turkey. That much is obvious,” he stated.
Mr Putin said the incident would have “significant consequences” for Russia’s relations with Turkey and warned: “We will never tolerate such atrocities as happened today and we hope that the international community will find the strength to join forces and fight this evil.”
This is where it “gets complicated.” We’ve written previously about the uneasy relationship between coalition forces and the Russians when it comes to Syria; Russia continues to buck coalition demands that Assad steps down, and has on more than one occasion used its considerable air presence in the region to fire upon anti-Assad rebels during missions billed as efforts to attack areas controlled by ISIS.
Turkey claims to have acted according to its rules of engagement, while Russia claims that its planes were no threat to Turkish security. Putin is baiting the issue here, and while I don’t expect this incident to sink us into World War III, we can count on these tensions to further degrade coalition efforts to create a cohesive front against the spread of ISIS.
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