Media captionThe video shows a plane descending rapidly in the sky ahead of disappearing behind trees

The Turkish military have reportedly shot down a Russian military aircraft on the border with Syria.

Russia’s defence ministry stated an Su-24 had crashed on Syrian territory soon after becoming hit by fire from the ground, and that its pilots had managed to eject.

But Turkish military officials stated Turkish F-16s had shot down the plane following repeatedly warning its pilots they were violating Turkish airspace.

Video footage showed the plane crashing into mountains in Latakia province.

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Russia launched an air campaign to bolster Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s government in late September.

Pilot ‘captured’

The Russian defence ministry confirmed on Tuesday morning that a Russian Su-24 had “crashed on Syrian territory, obtaining been hit from the ground” while it was flying at an altitude of six,000m (19,685ft).

“Efforts are getting created to ascertain what happened to the pilots. According to preliminary reports, the pilots have managed to self-eject,” the ministry was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.


A feared incident – Jonathan Marcus, BBC defence correspondent

This is exactly the kind of incident that several have feared given that Russia launched its air operations in Syria. The dangers of operating close to to the Turkish border have been all also apparent. Turkish planes have already shot down at least one particular Syrian air force jet and possibly a helicopter as well.

Russia insists that its warplane did not violate Turkish air space. So, was the Russian pilot’s navigation incorrect? Questions will also be asked about the readiness of the Turks to open fire.

It suggests that the significantly discussed arrangements to keep away from incidents amongst warplanes more than Syria are inadequate. The Turkish authorities will no doubt claim that such arrangements do not cover the approaches to their personal airspace where attempted and tested procedures must apply.

There are conflicting reports as to no matter whether it was ground fire or Turkish jets that brought down the Russian plane. Air operations in the crowded skies over Syria just got a very good deal far more complex. The only mitigating issue is that initial reports suggest that two parachutes had been noticed so the Russian crew at least got out of their stricken aircraft. Anticipate diplomatic fireworks.


The ministry stressed that “throughout its flight, the aircraft remained exclusively above Syrian territory”, adding: “Objective monitoring data shows it.”

Nevertheless, Turkish military officials stated its F-16s had fired on an unidentified aircraft soon after warning it 10 instances in the space of five minutes about violating Turkish airspace.

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption Russian Su-24 aircraft based in Latakia province have flown hundreds of sorties over northern Syria

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a UK-primarily based monitoring group, stated the warplane crashed in a mountainous region of Latakia province, exactly where air strikes and fighting amongst rebels and Syrian government forces had been reported earlier on Tuesday.

Qatar-primarily based Al Jazeera Television quoted an ethnic Turkmen rebel group as saying it had captured one particular of the Su-24’s two pilots and were “hunting for the other”.

Russian aircraft have flown hundreds of sorties over northern Syria since September. Moscow says they have targeted only “terrorists”, but activists say its strikes have primarily hit Western-backed rebel groups.

Turkey, a staunch critic of Mr Assad, has warned against violations of its airspace by Russian and Syrian aircraft.

Final month, Ankara stated Turkish F-16s had intercepted a Russian jet that crossed its border and two Turkish jets had been harassed by an unidentified Mig-29.

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