DAMASCUS – The Russian government announced Wednesday that Turkey may have planned the downing of one of its fighter jets near the Syrian border.
Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that the Turkish attack on the Russian warplane earlier on Tuesday appeared to be “an ambush”.
“The attack looks very much like a planned provocation,” Lavrov told reporters in Moscow on Wednesday, adding that Turkey was defending Syrian rebels against the government forces in the area where the downing of the Russian warplane took place.
“We can’t leave what happened without a response,” the Russian FM said.
On the other hand, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said in a statement that the Russian fighter jet was downed “after failing to heed multiple warnings and crossing into Turkey’s airspace”.
“We certainly don’t have any idea to escalate this issue,” Erdogan said.
Subsequent to the incident on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said in a press conference: “Our plane was shot down on Syrian territory by an air-to-air missile from an F-16. It fell on Syrian territory 4 kilometers from the Turkish border. It was flying at 6,000 meters 1 kilometer from Turkish territory when it was attacked.”
Putin considered Turkey’s downing of the Russian jet “a stab in the back”.
One of the Russian pilots who was rescued by special forces stressed that they have not received any warnings by the Turkish army before shooting down the warplane.
“If they’d wanted to warn us, they could have shown themselves, taking a parallel course,” the pilot said. “But there was nothing. And the rocket hit the tail of our plane suddenly. We didn’t even get a visual of it in time to take evasive action.”
Moscow revealed Wednesday its plan to deploy an S-400 air-defense system at the Latakia military base in western Syria and provide air support for its warplanes from a cruiser in the Mediterranean Sea and by dispatching fighter jets to accompany bombing missions.
Reporting by: Laila Majdalawi
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