One of the world’s most volatile regions was roiled further Tuesday when a Russian warplane was shot down near the Turkish-Syria border. Turkey said it shot down a plane after the aircraft repeatedly violated its airspace and ignored several warnings.
Turkey’s semi-official Anadolu news agency quoted Turkish presidential sources in reporting that the Russian SU-24 was “hit within the framework of engagement rules” in Syria’s Bayirbucak area, near the border with Turkey.
But Russia’s state-run Sputnik news agency said that “According to preliminary reports, the plane was gunned down from the ground.”
Russian officials denied that the plane had violated Turkish airspace. Both pilots ejected from the plane, but their fate is unknown, Sputnik said.
“The SU-24 bomber jet was in Syrian airspace at the altitude 6,000 meters, the Russian Defense Ministry said,” according to Sputnik. “The pilots were reportedly able to parachute out of the jet before it crashed.”
Syria has been embroiled for four and a half years in a brutal civil war that has killed hundreds thousands of people, sent millions fleeing, and laid waste to entire cities.
Turkey vehemently opposes the Syrian regime of Bashar al-Assad. Russia is propping up the Assad regime.
Skirmishes between Turks and Syrians have taken place in the past, with Turkish officials accusing Syrian planes of violating Turkish air space.