Turkish F16s shoot down warplane close to Syrian border: military official

ANKARA Turkish fighter jets shot down a warplane near the Syrian border right after it violated Turkey’s airspace on Tuesday, a Turkish military official said, but the nationality of the downed aircraft was not immediately clear.

Each Russia and its ally, Syria’s government, have carried out strikes in the location. A Syrian military supply said the reported downing was being investigated and Russia‚Äôs defense ministry was not quickly accessible for comment.

Turkish F16s warned the jet over the airspace violations ahead of shooting it down, the military official told Reuters.

Footage from private broadcaster Haberturk Tv showed a warplane going down in flames in a woodland area, a long plume of smoke trailing behind it. The plane went down in region identified by Turks as “Turkmen Mountain” in northern Syria near the Turkish border, Haberturk stated.

Separate footage from Turkey’s Anadolu Agency showed two pilots parachuting out of the jet ahead of it crashed.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group mentioned the warplane crashed in a mountainous location in the northern countryside of Latakia province and it was not instantly clear whether it was an aircraft from the Russian or Syrian air force.

The fate of the crew was unknown, the Observatory said, adding that there had been aerial bombardment in the location earlier, where pro-government forces have been battling insurgents on the ground.

Turkey known as this week for a U.N. Safety Council meeting to go over attacks on Turkmens in neighboring Syria, and last week Ankara summoned the Russian ambassador to protest the bombing of their villages.

Ankara has traditionally expressed solidarity with Syrian Turkmens, who are Syrians of Turkish descent.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu has spoken with the chief of military employees and the foreign minister about the developments on the Syrian border, the prime minister’s office stated in a statement, without having mentioning the downed jet.

He has ordered the foreign ministry to seek the advice of with NATO, the United Nations and associated countries on the most current developments, his office mentioned.

(Added reporting by Daren Butler, Melih Aslan and Asli Kandemir in Istanbul and Vladimir Soldatkin in Moscow, Tom Perry and Sylvia Westall in Beirut Writing by David Dolan Editing by Nick Tattersall and Andrew Heavens)

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