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Turkey Downs Russia Jet, Putin Warns of Major 'Consequences'

11-24-2015
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Turkey claims two of its F-16s shot down the Russian warplane after it violated its airspace and ignored multiple warnings to leave. They say the Russians have violated its airspace a number of times in the past.

Russia denies it flew over Turkey and says it can prove it was flying over Syrian airspace. It also says its plane was shot down by ground fire.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called Turkey's action a "stab in the back by the terrorists' accomplices" and warned of "significant consequences."

Two Russian pilots bailed out of their plane and initial reports indicate one may have been killed and the other captured by local forces. The plane went down in an area known as "Turkmen Mountain."

This area has been the subject of intense fighting between "Turkmen" forces and Syrian government forces. Turkey supports the Turkmen who are Syrians of Turkish descent.

The incident complicates the fragile situation in the region where Russian, United States, French, and Turkish warplanes all either share the same airspace or where territorial airspace is next to each other.

It also represents a significant escalation in the conflict. As a NATO member, Turkey can ask other NATO members to come to its aid if it feels like it's been attacked.

While Russia presumably is bombing ISIS targets, the U.S.-led coalition accuses Putin's forces of targeting Free Syrian Army forces that oppose the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. 

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