Erdogan holds emergency meeting over downed Russian plane

Turkish president gathers defense officials in wake of incident on Syrian border, Putin’s furious reaction

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, on November 16, 2015. (Adem Altan/AFP)
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan at the G20 Summit in Antalya, Turkey, on November 16, 2015. (Adem Altan/AFP)

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called an emergency security meeting on Tuesday evening, hours after the Turkish military shot down a Russian fighter jet.

CNN Turk and other sources reported that Erdogan was gathering Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, top generals, intelligence officials and senior ministers to discuss the developing situation.

In the incident, a Russian Su-24 fighter jet was shot down by two Turkish F-16s, after the Turkish military claimed that the Russian jet had violated Turkish airspace multiple times and ignored repeated warnings.

Russia insisted that the plane was inside Syrian airspace.

“A Russian Su-24 plane was downed under the rules of engagement because it violated the Turkish airspace despite the warnings,” the Turkish presidency said.

Reports said two pilots had ejected from the plane and Turkish television pictures showed two white parachutes descending to the ground.

At a meeting with Jordanian King Abdullah II in Moscow, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the shooting “a stab in the back committed by accomplices of terrorists. I cannot call what happened today anything else.”

“Presumably as a result of firing, an Su-24 plane of the Russian forces crashed in the Syrian Arab Republic,” Russian news agencies quoted the defense ministry as saying.

The North Atlantic Council, Nato’s governing body, called a meeting requested by alliance member Turkey. “The aim of this extraordinary NAC meeting is for Turkey to inform allies about the downing of a Russian airplane,” said Carmen Romero, NATO’s deputy spokesperson.

Following earlier accusations of Russian intrusion into Turkish airspace, the US European Command on November 6 deployed six US Air Force F-15 fighters from their base in Britain to Incirlik Air Base in Turkey to help the NATO-member country secure its skies.

The European Command said the deployment was “in response to the government of Turkey’s request for support in securing the sovereignty of Turkish airspace.”

In October, NATO’s governing body, the North Atlantic Council, had warned Moscow it was courting “extreme danger” by sending planes into Turkish air space.

CNN-Turk television said Syrian Turkmen forces fighting the Damascus regime had captured one of the pilots while Syrian opposition sources told AFP one had been killed by rebels and the second was missing.

Turkey’s Dogan news agency broadcast footage of what it said was Russian helicopters flying over Syrian territory in an apparent search for the lost men.

The Russian defense ministry said the fate of the pilots was not yet clear.

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