Moments ago a big black geopolitical swan landed when newswires lit up with headlines that a Turkish F-16 shot down what was initially said to be an unidentified warplane near the Syrian border after it violated Turkey's airspace on Tuesday, a Turkish military official said, but the nationality of the downed aircraft was not immediately clear.
The Russian jet crashed in the mountainous Jabal Turkmen area of Latakia, where air strikes and fighting between rebels and Syrian government forces were reported earlier on Tuesday.
According to Reuters, Turkish F16s warned the jet repeatedly over the airspace violations before shooting it down.
A Russian Su024 aircraft goes down in Kizildag region of Turkey's
Hatay province, close to the Syrian border, on November 24, 2015
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 area known by Turks as "Turkmen Mountain" in northern Syria near the Turkish border, Haberturk said.
Minutes later, the Turkish Lira sank like a rock while risk assets across Europe tumbled when the Turkish presidency confirmed that, as many had expected, the jet was a Russian fighter jet, which the Russian Defense Ministry later said was a Su-24. The Su-24 jet was warned after violating Turkish airspace and was then downed in line with Turkey’s rules of engagement, Anadolu says, citing officials at the presidency.
According to Todays' Szaman, in a statement, the Turkish military said a plane of unknown origin was shot down after it violated the Turkish airspace despite repeated warnings. The aircraft was warned 10 times in 5 minutes, the military said.
It said two Turkish F-16s were involved in the shooting down of the jet.
However, while moments ago the Russian defense ministry confirmed that the shot down plane was indeed one of its own in what will be deemed a clear act of aggression by a NATO-member country against Russia, the Russian defense ministry said it could prove the aircraft was over Syria for the entire flight.
The ministry added that the pilots ejected, according to preliminary info, and that Russia trying to determine their fates, Interfax reports. Interfax also adds that the plane was probably downed by fire from ground, and that it had been flying at flying at an altitude of 6,000 meters.
Meanwhile, Turkish media reported that either one or both of the pilots may have been captured by Turkmen forces located in the region.
- TURKMEN FORCES CAPTURE 2 PILOTS OF DOWNED RUSSIAN JET: AHABER
Although there is confusion whether both or just one pilot was captured
- SYRIA TURKMEN FORCES SAY 1 PILOT OF DOWNED PLANE CAPTURED: AA
Especially with a YouTube video spread showing what is alleged to be one of the pilots dead
A CNN Türk reporter in Yaylada? said a helicopter was hovering over the scene of the crash, apparently to pick up the pilots, but that opposition fighters were preventing it. The reporter later said one of the pilots was at the hands of Turkmen opposition fighters.
Prime Minister Davuto?lu has been briefed by the General Staff and ordered the Turkish Foreign Ministry to contact NATO, UN and relevant countries about the downed plane.
This huge escalation in the Syrian proxy war, one where a NATO country has openly attacked a non-NATO country (if Russia is correct and it did not violate Turkish airspace), comes after Turkey called this week for a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss 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.
We await a formal reaction by Russia, one which we doubt will be calm, cool and collected and may in fact see the Turkish aggression as an act of war if indeed the Russian Su never entered Turkish territory.
Here is the official statement by Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov via Sputnik:
"So far, we have not heard the reason for the crash of our attack aircraft from the Defense Ministry. We know for sure that the aircraft was in Syrian airspace, over the territory of Syria," Peskov said, noting that the ministry's first statement on the crash was based on preliminary information.
"It would be wrong to make some kind of assumptions right now, to make any statements until we have the complete picture. Therefore, we just have to be patient. This is a very serious incident, but again, it is impossible to say anything without complete information," he added.
"It can be assumed that the president… will touch upon this issue during the talk with the king, and that there will be some kind of a reaction," Peskov told reporters when asked whether Putin would make a statement on the matter.
Elsewhere, the Turkish army released what it claims is a radar path analysis of the downed jet's flight path:
At first blush it is not clear how the airspace violating jet could have received "10 warnings" in the several seconds it took to cross what the Turks claim was the offending Turkish territory, especially since the plane ultimately crashed in Syrian territory.
Updates to follow.