Moscow confirms warplane downed on Syria border was Russian

24th November 2015, Comments 0 comments

Russia confirmed on Tuesday that a warplane shot down by Turkey on the Syrian border was one of its fighter jets but insisted the plane had not violated Turkish airspace.

The ministry said the fate of the Sukhoi aircraft's two pilots was not yet clear but that preliminary reports suggested they had ejected.

"Presumably as a result of firing, an Su-24 plane of the Russian forces crashed in the Syrian Arab Republic," the defence ministry said in a statement.

"The plane was at an altitude of 6,000 metres. The fate of the pilots is being determined," the statement said.

"Throughout its flight the plane remained exclusively over Syrian territory."

The incident is the first time a Russian military plane has been downed since Moscow began a bombing campaign on September 30 at the request of its long-standing ally Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Moscow's intervention in Syria has strained its relations with Turkey -- a fierce opponent of Assad -- with Ankara summoning Russia's ambassador last week after Moscow's warplanes bombed Syrian territory "very close" to the Turkish border.

Turkish authorities have already summoned the Russian ambassador several times since Moscow launched its Syria campaign over alleged air space violations.

Ankara has also warned Moscow against supplying arms and support for Syrian Kurdish forces fighting the Islamic State group in Syria.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is scheduled to hold talks with his Turkish counterpart Feridun Sinirlioglu in Istanbul on Wednesday at a meeting planned before the plane downing.

© 2015 AFP

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