Russian Warplane Crashes in Syria;
Turkey Says It Shot Jet Down

By Oliver Darcy | The Blaze | November 24, 2015

A Russian warplane was downed near the Syria-Turkey border Tuesday as Turkish officials said the country shot down a jet for violating its airspace, according to reports.

Russian plane shot down by Turkey

Russian news agency Interfax reported that the Russian Defense Ministry said a Sukhoi SU-24 was downed in Syria and that the plane's two pilots had ejected.

Russian authorities said the fate of the two pilots was unclear as Fox News national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin reported helicopters were dispatched in an attempt to rescue the pilots who were avoiding capture.

Jennifer Griffin tweet

Jennifer Griffin tweet

Turkish officials took credit for shooting down a warplane, contending that the aircraft had violated its airspace. The NATO member said it gave multiple warnings before downing the SU-24. Russia denied it violated Turkey's airspace and said it could prove otherwise, Interfax reported.  Video captured the plane on fire as it fell from the sky.

Russia has been carrying out airstrikes against the Islamic State and President Vladimir Putin recently vowed to increase them after the terror group took credit for downing one of the country's passenger planes.

5:55 a.m. EST by Liz Klimas: The Russian government's press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, said, that it is awaiting the defense ministry's official statement on the cause of a downed Russian SU-24 plane in Syria before commenting on Moscow's next steps, according to reports.

The Turkish government said it shot down the plane after it violated its air space despite repeated warnings.

"It is impossible to speak about [the] possibility of Moscow's use of Article 51 of UN Charter until [the] Russian Defense Ministry posts [an] official statement on [the] causes of [the] SU-24 crash in Syria," Peskov said Tuesday, according to the Russian news site Interfax.

Article 51 of the U.N. Charter states:

Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defence if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations, until the Security Council has taken measures necessary to maintain international peace and security. Measures taken by Members in the exercise of this right of self-defence shall be immediately reported to the Security Council and shall not in any way affect the authority and responsibility of the Security Council under the present Charter to take at any time such action as it deems necessary in order to maintain or restore international peace and security.
Turkey owned up to shooting down the Russian war plane, saying it did so after giving its pilots multiple warnings for violating the country's air space.

A Turkish military statement said the plane entered Turkish airspace over the town of Yayladagi, in Hatay province.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attend a meeting at the presidential palace in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, left, and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu attend a meeting at the presidential palace in Ankara, Turkey, Tuesday, Nov. 24, 2015. Turkey 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. 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.

"On Nov. 24, 2015 at around 09.20 a.m, a plane whose nationality is not known violated the Turkish airspace despite several warnings (10 times within five minutes) in the area of Yayladagi, Hatary," the military said before the plane's nationality was confirmed.

"Two F-16 planes on aerial patrol duty in the area intervened against the plane in question in accordance with the rules of engagement at 09.24 a.m."

It said the plane was warned 10 times within the space of 5 minutes.

Turkey 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 ennemy threat and would act accordingly.

According to Interfax, the Russian government reiterated it is still too early in the investigation of the downed plane to discuss how relations between the two countries will be impacted by the incident.

Update 7:15 a.m. EST: NATO will hold an emergency meeting after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet along the Syrian border that Ankara said had violated its airspace.

Tuesday's meeting of the North Atlantic Council, the alliance's main decision-making body, will be held at Turkey's request, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make public statements.

The council, composed of ambassadors from the United States and NATO's 27 other member countries, will convene at 5 p.m.

The official said "the aim of this extraordinary NAC meeting is for Turkey to inform allies about the downing of a Russian airplane."

One of the pilots who ejected from the Russian SU-24 after it was shot down by the Turkish military was said to have been found dead upon landing, a spokesman for the rebel group in Syria said.

Jahed Ahmad of the 10th Brigade in the Coast told the Associated Press that the two Russian crew members tried to land in their parachutes in government-held areas after they ejected, but came under fire from members of his group.

He added that rebels shot one of the pilots, who landed dead on the ground on Tuesday.

The fate of the second pilot was not immediately known.  The group released a video showing gunmen standing around a blond pilot whose face was bruised and appeared dead.

Update 9:25 a.m. EST: Vladimir Putin said the downing of the plane is a 'blow in the back' from Turkey.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu though defended Turkey's shooting the Russian fighter jet at the border with Syria, saying Turkey has the right "to take all kinds of measures" against border violations according to international laws.

Davutoglu said Tuesday Turkey will not hesitate to take all steps to protect the country's security, calling it Turkey's "national duty." He stressed that the action did not amount to an aggression against any foreign territory.

Davutoglu also called on the international community to work toward "extinguishing the fire that is burning in Syria."

Update 10 a.m. EST: Deputy Commander with the Syrian Turkmen brigade Alpaslan Celik said both pilots who ejected from the Russian plane that was shot down by Turkish fighter jets were shot and killed.

"Both of the pilots were retrieved dead," Celik said, according to Reuters. "Our comrades opened fire into the air and they died in the air."

Video that reportedly shows one of the dead pilots includes a group of men chanting "allahu akbar" around him, meaning "God is great."

The BBC explained that the Turkmen are and ethnic group who lived in the region for centuries. Here's more from BBC on the brigade:

The Syrian Turkmen Brigades are around 10,000 strong and were set up in 2012 as the civil war in Syria took hold. They are one of the main Turkish-trained Turkmen opposition groups operating in the area where the Russian plane crashed. Their military structure is loose and they maintain a number of units in northern Syria.
Check out BBC's full article for more on the Turkmen and the allegiances of their brigades.

Czech leaders say a lack of a common strategy and proper cooperation of all the players involved in the Syrian conflict are to blame for the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey.

Foreign Minister Lubomir Zaoralek said that "because there's not a clear agreement of the international community on a common strategy and because the enemy is not clearly defined, everyone fights a war in their own interest and we can end up fighting each other."

Update 11:20 a.m. EST: The Free Syrian Army, a U.S.-backed group, claimed to have downed a Russian helicopter later Tuesday.

A rebel spokesman, Zakaria al-Ahmad, said the chopper was flying low over mountains in Latakia province, allegedly searching for the missing Russian pilots who ejected after Turkey shot down their plane for allegedly violating the country's air space.

Al-Ahmad said the rebels fired a Tao missile that destroyed the helicopter after it landed and its pilots had left the aircraft.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the chopper made an emergency landing in the area and its pilots ejected before the aircraft was hit. It was not clear why it made an emergency landing.

Update 11:55 a.m. EST: While a commander with the Syrian Turkmen Brigade claimed to have shot down and killed both pilots of a Russian warplane downed by Turkey, a Turkish official later said he believes they're still alive.

According to Reuters, the official said the Turkish government "received the information that the two pilots were alive" and it was "working to get them from opposition rebels safely."

Kremlin spokesman Peskov said, according to the Russian news site Interfax, that the Russian government doesn't yet have any official info on the crew from the downed plane. He also called Turkey's actions incomprehensible and hostile.

Update 12:45 p.m. EST: U.S. President Barack Obama in a joint press conference alongside French President Francois Hollande was asked about today's events between Turkey in Russia.

He said that while he expects to be in communication with the two countries to find out exactly what happened in the next several days.

"Like every country, Turkey has a right to defend its territory and its airspace," Obama said. "I think it's very important for us, right now, to make sure both the Russians and the Turkish are talking to each other, to find out what happened."

Obama went on to say that this incident appears to point to "an ongoing problem with the Russian operations in the sense that they are operating very close to a Turkish border and they are going after moderate opposition that are supported by not only Turkey but several other countries.

Obama said his top priority is to "ensure this does not escalate."

Update 1:25 p.m. EST: NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg said after a meeting requested by Turkey that the organization stood "in solidarity with Turkey." He also said that information from other allies supported the information provided to it by Turkey.

Update 2:45 p.m. EST: Russia's military general staff says that one of the pilots of the Su-24 warplane that was shot down by Turkey was killed by groundfire as he parachuted from his crippled plane.

Russian news agencies reported the statement Tuesday by general staff spokesman Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, who also said that rebels in Syria fired on a Russian helicopter that was searching for the two pilots of the Su-24.

He said that shooting killed one crew member on the Mi-8 helicopter and forced it to land in neutral territory. The rest of the crew was evacuated.

Rudskoi also said that Russian radar data showed that Turkish warplanes had violated Syrian airspace in the course of shooting down the Russian plane.