Russian President Vladimir Putin says the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey will have "tragic consequences" for ties between the two countries.
Turkey said Tuesday that it shot down a Russian warplane after it ventured into Turkish airspace but Russia's defense ministry said the aircraft remained within Syria.
Putin called the attack "a stab in Russia’s back delivered by terrorist accomplices" and said that Russia will not tolerate it, Russia's TASS news agency reported.
He said the plane, a Su-24 attack aircraft, was downed by an air-to-air missile launched from a Turkish F-16 fighter jet.
The incident is being investigated and comes amid tense relations between Ankara, Moscow and the West over the conflict in Syria. Russia and a U.S.-led coalition are bombing targets in the war-ravaged country. Turkey is a member of NATO. The defense alliance will hold an extraordinary meeting later Tuesday.
The Turkish military said that 10 warnings were issued in five minutes before a warplane of unknown nationality was shot down by two F-16 jets after breaching its airspace. The nation's state-run Anadolu news agency said the plane went down in Bayirbucak, northwestern Syria, near Turkey.
"A probe is in progress into the circumstances of the Russian plane’s crash. The Defense Ministry says the plane invariably stayed within Syrian airspace. Objective monitoring data confirm this," Russia's defense ministry said, according to TASS.
Turkey's private Dogan news agency said that witnesses said the warplane crashed over tents in a village and pilots landed with parachutes. Russia's Interfax agency said the pilots ejected, and what happened to them is under investigation, citing the defense ministry.
A video posted online Monday purports to shows armed rebels gathered around a bruised soldier lying on the ground. A voice says, “The 10th Division has captured a Russian pilot, God is greatest.” The allegiances of this armed group was not clear.
Jahed Ahmad, a spokesman for the 10th Brigade in the Coast rebel group, told the Associated Press that two Russian servicemembers tried to land in their parachutes in areas held by Syrian President Bashar Assad, but came under fire from his forces. He said one of the pilots was shot and killed.
What happened to the second pilot wasn't immediately known.
Jordan's King Abdullah II offered condolences to Putin over the pilot's death, Interfax reported.
Russian fighter planes breached Turkish airspace twice in October.
Russia launched extensive attacks on Islamic State targets in Raqqa, the extremist group's headquarters in Syria, last week after Russian investigators concluded a homemade bomb brought down a Russian passenger plane in Egypt last month, killing all 224 aboard. The Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL, claimed responsibility.
The U.S. government previously said most Russian strikes targeted moderate rebels, including some backed by the U.S., and that the real purpose of Russia's recent air campaign in Syria was not to defeat ISIL but to prop up Syria's president.
Source credit: USA Today