Turkey has shot down a Russian warplane, the first time a Nato country and Moscow have exchanged direct fire over the crisis in Syria.
Ankara and the Kremlin 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. A government official said: “In line with the military rules of engagement, the Turkish authorities repeatedly warned an unidentified aircraft that they were 15km or less away from the border. The aircraft didn’t heed the warnings and proceeded to fly over Turkey. The Turkish air forces responded by downing the aircraft.
“This isn’t an action against any specific country: our F-16s took necessary steps to defend Turkey’s sovereign territory.”
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 and claimed that fire from the ground was responsible. “At all times, the Su-24 was exclusively over the territory of Syria,” the defence ministry said.
“The Su-24 was at 6,000 metres and preliminary information suggests it was brought down by fire from the ground. The circumstances are being investigated.” Read more