By OKECHUKWU PEACE
At least two persons including a pilot and co-pilot have been confirmed dead after Turkish military reportedly shot down a Russian military aircraft on the border with Syria.
Russia’s defence ministry said an Su-24 had crashed on Syrian territory after being hit by fire from the ground.
But Turkish military officials said Turkish F-16s had shot down the plane after repeatedly warning it’s two crew they were violating Turkish airspace.
The crew ejected on parachutes before the jet crashed in Latakia province, but sources said they were immediately gun down.
It is the first time a Russian aircraft has crashed in Syria since Moscow launched air strikes against opponents of President Bashar al-Assad in late September.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov described the incident as “very serious”, but cautioned that it was too early to draw conclusions.
But Russia’s defence ministry said it could prove the aircraft never left Syrian airspace
“Efforts are being made to ascertain what happened to the pilots. According to preliminary reports, the pilots have managed to self-eject,” the ministry was quoted as saying by the Interfax news agency.
The ministry stressed that “throughout its flight, the aircraft remained exclusively above Syrian territory”, adding: “Objective monitoring data shows it.”