Al Jazeera reports that the Turkish military has shot down a Russian jet for flying in Turkish airspace.
The jet, a Russian-made Sukhoi Su-24, had reportedly crossed into Turkey from Syria and was flying over Hatay province. A Turkish military statement says that the Russian plane was warned “10 times in five minutes.” The jet was unresponsive, so, as the statement continues, “two F-16 planes on air patrol duty intervened…on November 24, 2015, 9:24am, according to the rules of engagement”.
While Turkey suggests a Turkish jet downed the plane, the Russian defense ministry attributes the crash to an attack from the ground.
The Russian jet crashed into the Syrian village of Yamadi, part of the Latakia region. The two pilots were seen ejecting from the plane and parachuting down. Al Jazeera further reports that rebels in the village recovered both bodies.
Russian news agency TASS claims that the jet stayed within Syrian airspace and never crossed into Turkey.
The incident is adding strain to Turkey-Russia relations. Russian president spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, responded to questions about Russian retaliation by saying “The president refrained from such statements, but at the same time, of course, he stressed [the] inevitability of consequences after such unfriendly actions of the Turkish side.”
News of the downed plane follows a recent flare-up in Russia-US relations. Russia, which has long allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, pledged to support US-led efforts against ISIS with an air-bombing campaign. Last month, Vox reported that Russia was bombing anti-Assad rebels instead of ISIS. Moscow maintained its claim, however, that it was fighting ISIS.
Then, this month, President Obama and Russian president Putin met at the G20 Summit. The two leaders signaled an agreement between their nations that they would work together on a solution in Syria, combat ISIS, and bring about a transition of power away from the current regime.
Whether the downing of the Russian jet will change Russian involvement in the war is yet to be seen. Russian and international investigations into the incident are scheduled to follow.