Turkish F-16 fighter jets have shot down a Russian warplane close to the Syrian border, accusing it of violating Turkish airspace, while the Russian Defense Ministry denies that the airspace violation took place.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the plane downed on Tuesday was a Russian Su-24. It said it can prove the aircraft was over Syria during its entire flight. This is while the Turkish military said the plane was warned “ten times” before it was shot down for violating Turkish airspace.
Turkish officials say two warplanes approached the country’s border and were warned before one of them was shot down.
Russia is involved in an aerial military campaign against terrorists in Syria, which started upon a request by the government in Damascus.
Private Turkish broadcaster Haberturk TV broadcast footage of the plane going down in flames on Tuesday.
Other footage by Anadolou apparently showed two pilots parachuting away from the plane. CNN Turk has cited local sources as saying that one of the downed jet’s pilots is in hands of militants in northern Syria.
Some reports say Russian helicopters are conducting low-altitude flights in the area to look for the pilots.
‘Very serious incident’
Other reports by regional Arabic media outlets indicate that one of the pilots has been killed under unclear circumstances. In addition, footage (below) has surfaced apparently showing militants around the body of the pilot, seen immobile on the ground.
A spokesman for the Kremlin has called the downing of the Russian warplane in Syria a “very serious incident,” adding, however, that it was too early to draw conclusions.
Meanwhile, there are reports that Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has canceled a planned visit to Turkey on Wednesday.
‘An act of war’
Military analyst and former US Army psychological warfare officer Scott Bennett has described the incident as “an act of war” against Russia.
Bennett told Press TV’s website on Tuesday that “this really is, today, the largest escalation of the war that has happened since the war began in the last couple of years, because essentially, Turkey has been threatening Russia and trying to bluff Russia and trying to psychologically destabilize Russia from performing its essential counter-terrorism mission.”
“Russia has been doing a very good humanitarian rescue of the… people of Syria from the beheadings, from the rapes, from the extortion, from the ethnic cleansing that has been committed by the Saudi Arabian, Qatari, Kuwait... [Persian] Gulf nations, which have been trying to infect a Wahhabi cult fanaticism into Syria.”
Russia launched its air campaign against the terrorists in Syria on September 30.
Bennett said, “We will see instantly, within the next 12 hours, the Russian intelligence apparatus yielding very clear information that will prove unequivocally that Russia was within… the skies of Syria and in fact Turkish offensive actions were most likely authorized, if not mandated by [US] President [Barack] Obama, the CIA, and Mossad operations in an attempt to pull the Russian offensive away from the destruction the ISIS (Daesh) assets.”