As the BBC puts it, "this is exactly the kind of incident that many have feared since Russia launched its air operations in Syria." That assessment comes after Turkish fighter jets shot down a Russian warplane Tuesday, claiming it had violated Turkey's airspace and ignored multiple warnings, reports the New York Times. Russia denied that its plane ever left Syrian territory. So far, the reaction from Moscow has been relatively restrained, notes AP. A spokesperson for the Kremlin says it's too early to determine how this might affect relations between the two countries until all the details are sussed out. Russia's foreign minister was scheduled to travel to Turkey on Wednesday. More:
- Video footage of the incident showed a warplane on fire before crashing on a hill after two crew members deployed their parachutes. Reuters reports that activists say the plane crashed in a mountainous part of Syria's Latakia province, where government forces have been fighting insurgents. A Syrian rebel group says one pilot died. The fate of the other is unclear.
- A Turkish military statement said the plane entered Turkish airspace over the town of Yayladagi, in Hatay province. "Two F-16 planes on aerial patrol duty in the area intervened against the plane in question in accordance with the rules of engagement at 9:24am," the statement said, adding that the plane had been warned 10 times in the space of five minutes.
- Russian authorities say the plane was one of dozens flying sorties as part of the country's bombing campaign in Syria, reports the Washington Post, which notes that since Turkey is a NATO member, the downing of the jet is bound to increase friction between Moscow and the West. It's the first time since the 1950s that a NATO member has downed a Russian or Soviet aircraft, notes Reuters.
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