Both pilots in a Russian jet shot down by Turkey died after being fired on by Syrian rebels, a commander has said.
‘Both of the pilots were retrieved dead. Our comrades opened fire into the air and they died in the air,’ Alpaslan Celik, a deputy commander in a Syrian Turkmen brigade said near the Syrian village of Yamadi as he held what he said was a piece of a pilot’s parachute.
Jahed Ahmad, of the 10th Brigade in the Coast, earlier said the plane’s two Russian crew members tried to land in their parachutes in Syrian government-held areas after they ejected, but came under fire from members of his group.
The group released a video showing gunmen standing around a blond pilot who had bruises on his face and appeared dead.
A voice on the video is heard saying ‘a Russian pilot’, while another says: ‘The 10th Division has captured a Russian pilot. God is greatest.’
Turkey said the plane had ignored repeated warnings, while Russia denied that the plane crossed the Syrian border into Turkish skies.
Vladimir Putin said that the action was a ‘stab in the back’ from Turkey.
The Russian defence ministry said: ‘We are looking into the circumstances of the crash of the Russian jet.
‘The Ministry of Defence would like to stress that the plane was over the Syrian territory throughout the flight.’
Russia said the Su-24 was downed by artillery fire, but Turkey claimed that its F-16s fired on the Russian plane after it ignored several warnings.
The ministry said the pilots parachuted but added that Moscow had no further contact with them.
A Turkish military statement said the plane entered Turkish airspace over the town of Yayladagi, in Hatay province.
‘On November 24 2015 at around 9.20am, a plane whose nationality is not known violated the Turkish airspace despite several warnings (10 times within five minutes) in the area of Yayladagi, Hatary,’ the military said before the plane’s nationality was confirmed.
‘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.’
Turkey’s foreign ministry summoned the Russian ambassador on Friday demanding that Russia cease operations in Syria targeting Turkmen villages, saying the Russian actions did not ‘constitute a fight against terrorism’ but the bombing of civilians.
Ambassador Andrey Karlov was warned during the meeting that the Russian operations could lead to serious consequences, the ministry said.
Nato said its ruling council will hold an emergency meeting over the incident later on Tuesday, at Turkey’s request.
The North Atlantic Council (NAC), composed of ambassadors from the United States and Nato’s 27 other member countries, will convene at 3pm UK time.
An official said ‘the aim of this extraordinary NAC meeting is for Turkey to inform allies about the downing of a Russian airplane’.
The NAC accused Russia of ‘irresponsible behaviour’ on October 5 following two earlier Russian violations of Turkish airspace reported by Turkey, and sternly warned Moscow it was courting ‘extreme danger’ by sending its war planes into the skies of an alliance member country.