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Saturday, March 2, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Turkey Shoots Down Russian Fighter Near Syrian Border

(CN) - Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border Tuesday morning, claiming it had violated Turkish airspace, complicating international issues in the Syrian catastrophe.

Turkey said its fighter jets shot down a military plane Tuesday in Turkish airspace. It did not immediately say the plane was Russian.

Russia said that a Sukhoi SU-24 had crashed in Syria, denied that the fighter jet had left Syrian airspace, and that the two pilots ejected. Putin called it "a stab in the back" from "accomplices of terrorists."

Both pilots apparently were shot to death as they parachuted to earth.

Turkey said it warned the pilots 10 times in 5 minutes before shooting down the jet fighter.

The incident surely will ratchet up tension worldwide, after Western nations appeared to be making some headway in working with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Putin has intervened in Syria, with bombing that intensified after ISIS claimed responsibility for blowing up a Russian passenger jet on Oct. 31, killing 224 people.

The West claims that Russia is not targeting ISIS, but other opponents of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Russia has been bombing in the area near the Tuesday incident, apparently in support of Assad.

Turkey, for its part, though a member of NATO and a proclaimed U.S. ally, has seemed more interested in keeping a lid on the 14 million to 20 million Kurds who live in Turkey - one of the largest, if not the largest ethnic groups in the world without a homeland. The Kurds have come to seem, increasingly, one of the only reliable U.S. allies in the war-torn region, apart from Israel.

Putin for years has blamed unrest in Russia and its former Soviet satellites on Western plots. His accusations have become increasingly heated since he annexed Crimea in March 2014, then sent Russian troops elsewhere into Ukraine, and denied he had done it.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov was scheduled to meet with his Turkish counterparts Wednesday in Turkey. That meeting has been canceled.

The NATO compact declares that an attack upon one NATO nation is considered an attack upon all of them. NATO called an emergency meeting Tuesday in Brussels.

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