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Turkish F-16s shoot down Russian warplane near Syrian border

ANKARA: Turkey confirmed that it shot down a Russian warplane Tuesday, claiming it had violated Turkish airspace and ignored repeated warnings. Russia denied that the plane crossed the Syrian border into Turkish skies.
“We are looking into the circumstances of the crash of the Russian jet,” Russia’s Defence Ministry said. “The Ministry of Defence would like to stress that the plane was over the Syrian territory throughout the flight. “
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 several warnings.
The ministry said the pilots parachuted but added that Moscow had no further contact with them.
One of the pilots of the warplane was in the hands of Turk forces in Syria who were searching for the other pilot, broadcaster CNN Turk reported, citing local sources.
A Turkish military statement said the plane entered Turkish airspace over town of Yaylidag, in Hatay province. It said the plane was warned 10 times within the space of 5 minutes.
Rami Abdurrahman, who heads the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said the warplane crashed in the Turkmen Mountains region in the coastal province of Latakia.
The Turkomen Mountains region has been subjected to a government offensive in recent days under the cover of Russian airstrikes.
Last month, Turkish jets shot down an unidentified drone that it said had violated Turkey’s airspace
Footage from private broadcaster Haberturk TV showed a warplane going down in flames in a woodland area, a long plume of smoke trailing behind it. The plane went down in area known by Turks as “Turkmen Mountain” in northern Syria near the Turkish border, Haberturk said.
Separate footage from Turkey’s Anadolu Agency showed two pilots parachuting out of the jet before it crashed.
Russia has repeatedly carried out air strikes in Syria in defence of President Bashar al-Assad. Russia’s defence ministry was not immediately available for comment.
Turkey called this week for a UN Security Council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens in neighbouring Syria, and last week Ankara summoned the Russian ambassador to protest the bombing of their villages.
Ankara has traditionally expressed solidarity with Syrian Turkmens, who are Syrians of Turkish descent.
The warplane shot down by Turkey near the Syrian border on Tuesday was a Russian-made SU-24, Turkish presidential sources said, adding it was downed in line with Turkey’s rules of engagement after violating Ankara’s airspace.
President Tayyip Erdogan has been briefed by the head of the military and will talk to Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, the sources said.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has spoken with the chief of military staff and the foreign minister about the developments on the Syrian border, the prime minister’s office said in a statement, without mentioning the downed jet.
He has ordered the foreign ministry to consult with Nato, the United Nations and related countries on the latest developments, his office said.

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