A Russian fighter jet has been shot down close to Syria’s border with Turkey Tuesday morning, according to Russia’s defense ministry. The pilots reportedly ejected before it crashed.
The Guardian reports that Turkey’s military claims its jets shot down a Russian SU-24 fighter jet, saying it violated Turkey’s airspace. Reportedly, they warned the jet 10 times over a space of five minutes that it had violated Turkey’s airspace before shooting down the Russian fighter jet using F-16 fighter jets.
Initially, CNN was reporting that a jet of “unknown origins” had crashed near the Syrian border. CNN quoted Turkey’s Anadolu Agency as saying, “A war plane with unidentified nationality fell near the Turkish border in Syria’s Bayirbucak region,” adding the moment of the plane “falling into the Bayirbucak region across from Hatay’s Yayladagi was captured on camera.”
Turkish F-16s shoot down Russian fighter jet: A foreign warplane shot down by Turkey near the Syrian border on… https://t.co/Gcf2VeiHF2
— Nivedith.G (@nivedithg) November 24, 2015
Reportedly the pilots’ evacuation using parachutes was also separately captured on video as it went down engulfed in flames, and heavy smoke was seen in the area where the plane crashed.
In a series of tweets, Russia’s defense ministry confirmed in a statement on Twitter that a Russian fighter jet had been shot down, but went on to stress that the plane never left Syrian airspace.
“At all times, the SU-24 was exclusively over the territory of Syria … The SU-24 was at 6000 meters and preliminary information suggests it was brought down by fire from the ground. The circumstances are being investigated.”
According to a later tweet by the Russian defense ministry, preliminary information suggested the two pilots did manage to eject safely from the Russian jet after it was shot down, and it was later confirmed one is in the hands of Syrian rebels.
The video below was broadcast on Habertürk TV and shows the Russian fighter jet going down in flames in a woodland area known by Turks as “Turkmen Mountain” close to the border in northern Syria.
The footage of the two pilots parachuting from the Russian jet was reportedly shown separately by Turkey’s Anadolu Agency. Citing local sources, CNN Turk later reported one of the pilots is in the hands of Turkmen forces in Syria while they search for the second pilot.
As reported by CNN, the Turkish government strongly opposes the regime of Bashar al-Assad. Reportedly there have been skirmishes in the past between Turks and Syrians, with officials in Turkey accusing Syrian planes of violating the country’s air space.
In one such incident back in March 2014, Turkey reportedly shot down a Syrian fighter jet, with Recep Tayyip Erdogan — then prime minister of Turkey, now president — saying the plane had strayed into Turkey’s airspace.
Hope the 2 Russian pilots are safe and well Turkey ‘shoots down fighter jet by Syrian border’ https://t.co/8FxM2r0Dpv — Exbootie (@exRMCommando) November 24, 2015
Erdogan told supporters at a campaign rally, “Our F-16s went up in the air and shot that plane down. Why? Because if you violate my airspace, then from now on, our slap will be hard.”
However on Syria’s side, the state-run media dubbed the shoot-down an act of “blatant aggression” on the part of Turkey, saying the downed plane was over northern Syrian airspace at the time.
Meanwhile Russia, which is in support of the Assad regime, is actively targeting IS militants in Syria in an ongoing campaign.
Update: The graphic video below has been uploaded by RT News and reportedly shows armed men surrounding an alleged Russian pilot who appears to be unconscious. In the description RT states, “The men seem to be happy and are praising Allah, with some regretting that they hadn’t burned him on the spot.”
Warning: While the footage of the pilot is blurred out, the video may upset sensitive viewers.
Update 2: In a meeting between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Jordan’s King Abdullah in Moscow, Putin said the shooting down of the Russian fighter jet over Syria is a “stab in the back by terrorist accomplices.” See the video of the meeting below.