BREAKING: Russian helicopter coming under heavy fire, shot at with missile by Syrian rebels as second pilot found ‘dead’
TURKISH warplanes have shot down a Russian jet which they claim flew into the country’s airspace.
By ALIX CULBERTSON
The aircraft was shot down after it was warned 10 times in five minutes to leave Turkish airspace, a Turkish military official has said.
It was just over the Syrian border in Turkey when it was downed by F16 Fighting Falcon jets belonging to Turkey, the official added.
But Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plane was 4km into Syria and had not violated Turkey’s airspace as it flew at an altitude of 6,000 metres – and claimed it was shot down from the ground not the air.
NATO has announced it will be holding an extraordinary session at 4pm GMT in Brussels after Turkey requested it following the incident.
Unverified sources have claimed Russia is currently sending a warship across the Dardenelles from the Black Sea into the Mediterranean.
Mr Putin said the pilots did not threaten anyone and the incident will have “serious consequences” for Turkish-Russian relations as he called it a “stab in the back”.
The president added: “Large amounts of oil from militants go to and through Turkey.”
The incident is the first time a Russian or Soviet plane has been shot down by a NATO member since the 1950s.
It would be wrong to talk about consequences and relations between Russia and Turkey at the moment
Two pilots managed to eject from the jet and were seen landing with the help of parachutes.
The jet is reported to be a Russian Su-24 flown by a pair of Russian pilots, with one believed to have been captured by Syrian rebels from the Alweya Al-Ashar (Brigade of the 10th) which consists of Turkmen with strong links to Turkey.
He was initially thought to be alive but rebels have now said they have recovered both pilots’ bodies.
The second pilot is believed to have died in the crash after footage was released by Syrian rebels appearing to show them crowding around a body saying “Allahu Akbar” – God is Great in Arabic.
Russia is currently fighting in Syria with President Bashar al-Assad’s troops against the rebels and Islamic State (ISIS).
Sources say the brigade has now launched “a counter-offensive” against President Bashar and Russian troops in a bid to take back the Turkman mountains.
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