Earlier today Turkey admitted that it shot down a Russian Su-24 Fighter Bomber on the Syrian-Turkish border. The Russian jet was shot down Tuesday morning from the ground while flying over the Kazildag Mountains where intense fighting has been taking place between the Syrian Arab Army (government forces) and terrorist insurgents. according to the Russian Defense Ministry. Although the current status is yet unknown, both pilots are believed to have ejected and parachuted to safety.
Some social media reports are now claiming that one of the two Russian pilots is dead. Russian helicopters tried to evacuate both of them but were shot at from the ground by pro-Turkish militants, US-backed ‘moderate’ al Nusra Front (al Qaeda) rebels, reports the 21st Century Wire. Turkey is claiming that its own F16 fighter intercepted and shot down the Russian aircraft even though reports indicate the Russian plane was shot down from the ground.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was briefed and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ordered consultations with NATO, and the United Nations. Russian President Vladimir Putin is set to address a press conference late this afternoon to comment on the situation.
To avoid this very situation, last month, a ‘deconfliction’ contact center was set-up. This has all the characteristics of a premeditated act of aggression by Turkey designed to break-up cooperation between Russia, France and other NATO countries. It also asserts Turkey’s role as a protector of the Pro-Turkish, al Nusra Front and other armed insurgents in the north of Syria.
In a letter to the U.N. Security Council, Turkey said it had shot down the jet while in Turkish air space. Along with a second plane, the aircraft had flown more than a mile into Turkey for 17 seconds, despite being warned 10 times in five minutes while approaching to change direction, the letter said.
“Nobody should doubt that we made our best efforts to avoid this latest incident. But everyone should respect the right of Turkey to defend its borders,” Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said in a speech in Ankara.
In condemnation of Russian air strikes in Syria, during which Turkish air space has been violated several times in recent weeks, Erdogan said that only Turkey’s “cool-headedness” had prevented worse incidents in the past. President Barack Obama and French President Francois Hollande, met in Washington and urged against an escalation, while NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the military alliance stood in solidarity with Turkey.
There are two distinct versions of what is taking place in Syria. Which version you get depends on who you talk to. According to the Oriental Review on Sunday, of approximately 826 ISIS targets (training camps, munition and explosives plants, depots, oil refinery and transport objects) only the Russian Air Force and Navy actually hit anything this past week which caused critical damage to the terrorist groups and its revenue sources. The sponsors of the ISIS are certainly committed to acquire and supply to the jihadist brigades the air defense systems efficient enough to at least hamper the activities of the coalition in the Syrian sky.
Being aware of the Russian plans to launch anti-terrorist air campaign, a Qatari delegation from the Ministry of Defense came to Kiev to take part in the Arms and Security Expo, September 22-27, 2015. They reached a deal with UkrOboronProm (a state-run Ukrainian arms trader) to purchase the modernized Air Defense Missile Complex “Pechora-2D.”
The Russian plane was supporting Syrian troops which have been on the offensive in an area controlled by several insurgent groups including al-Qaida’s branch in Syria, the Nusra Front, and the 2nd Coastal Division and the 10th Coast Division that includes local Turkmen fighters.
Turkey says it changed its rules of engagement a few years ago after Syria shot down a Turkish plane. According to the new rules, Turkey said it would consider all “elements” approaching from Syria an enemy threat and would act accordingly.
Sarah Lain, an analyst at the Royal United Services Institute, said the last time she could remember a NATO member country, the United States, shooting down a Russian/Soviet plane was the 1950s. “But the Soviets appear to have shot down more U.S. planes amid the Cold War,” she added.