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Turkey opposition leader slams Russian jet downing

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (R) shakes hands with Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chairman of Turkey’s Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), prior to a meeting in Moscow, Russia, December 23, 2015. ©AP

The leader of a Turkish opposition party has described as a mistake Ankara’s recent downing of a Russian fighter jet on the Syrian soil, saying that his party has already censured the move.

"We criticized the actions of the government when the Russian plane was shot down," Russian news agencies quoted Selahattin Demirtas, the co-chairman of the left-wing pro-Kurdish Peoples' Democratic Party (HDP), as saying in a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Moscow on Wednesday.

Demirtas further expressed his party’s opposition to the deterioration of ties between Ankara and Moscow, calling for a peaceful settlement of the issue.

"From the very first days, we declared as an opposition party in the country, that we do not support the position of worsening relations with Russia,” he said, adding, “A solution that won’t harm our two nations should be found.”

On November 24, Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24M Fencer aircraft with two pilots aboard, claiming that the fighter jet had repeatedly violated the Turkish airspace. One of the pilots lost his life in the incident and the other was rescued in a Syrian army operation.

A combination of frame grabs shows a warplane crashing in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after it was shot down by Turkish fighter jets near the Turkish-Syrian border, November 24, 2015. ©Reuters

Moscow, however, dismissed Ankara’s claims, stressing that the plane was brought down in Syria's airspace, where Russia has been conducting operations against Takfiri terrorists since September 30 upon a request by the Damascus government.

During Wednesday’s meeting, the top Russian diplomat also expressed Moscow’s readiness to “actively cooperate” with those who are fighting the threat from Daesh and other terrorist groups “on the land.”

Turkey's downing  of Russian jet 'betrayal'

In another relevant development on Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu met with his Armenian counterpart, Seyran Ohanyan, in Moscow on Wednesday.

During the meeting, the Russian defense minister denounced Turkey’s downing of the Russian aircraft as “almost a betrayal," noting, “We didn’t expect such actions from those saying they are part of the coalition against Daesh and other terrorist groups in Syria."

Since September 2014, the US along with some of its allies has been conducting air raids against what are said to be the Daesh terrorists inside Syria without any authorization from Damascus or a UN mandate. The air assaults in Syria are an extension of the US-led aerial campaign against purported Daesh positions in Iraq, which started in August 2014. The attacks have failed to disband the extremists.

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