Original published by RT, translated from Russian by J.Hawk
Today, at 10:24 Moscow standard time, while carrying out a combat mission over the territory of Syrian Arab Republic, a Turkish Air Force F-16 fighter shot down a Russian Air Force Su-24M tactical bomber. It appears that the bomber was destroyed by a short-range infrared-homing missile.
We had not detected any attempts by the Turkish aircraft to establish communications or a visual contact with our crew.
The missile struck the Su-24M over Syria’s territory. The aircraft crashed 4km from Syria’s border. The crew ejected. Preliminary information suggests one crewmember was killed by fire from the ground while on his parachute.
Our surveillance data indicates the plane had not entered Turkish airspace. Syria’s air defense confirms this.
Moreover, radars based at the Khmeimim airbase indicate that the attacking Turkish Air Force aircraft entered Syrian airspace.
This is a most serious violation of international law norms which can have the most dire of consequences, and is also a direct violation of the Memorandum on Preventing Incidents and Ensuring Safe Flight in the Syrian Arab Republic which we entered into with the United States and which applies to all coalition members, including Turkey.
This is apparently why Turkey entered into emergency consultations with NATO, instead of establishing instant contact with the Russian Ministry of Defense.
Turkey’s Defense Attache to the Russian Federation received a stern protest note against Turkish Air Force actions which had caused the loss of our aircraft.
We note that we have established a direct telephone link between our National Defense Control Center and Turkey’s MOD, but that link had not yielded any practical results due to Turkey’s intransigence.
In order to evacuate the Russian flyers from the crash site, a search and rescue operation was launched using two Mi-8 helicopters. In the course of the operation one helicopter was damaged by small arms fire from the ground and was forced to land on neutral territory. One Naval Infantry contract soldier was killed.
Subsequent actions resulted in the evacuation of the search and rescue team and the helicopter crew, who are currently back at the Khmeimim airbase. The helicopter was destroyed by mortar fire from territory controlled by the militants.
The search and rescue operation of the bomber crew is continuing.
I want to emphasize that Syrian government forces are continuing operations in the area of Russian air operations with the objective of destroying an unlawful armed formation consisting of, according to our information, over 1000 militants who are natives of North Caucasus.
I would also like to draw attention to the fact that none of our partners and countries conducting operations against ISIL ever said that there were so-called “moderate opposition” formations in the area, and that they are advising against launching strikes against that area. To the contrary, this region is known as a territory controlled by the most radical formations.
The General Staff is currently developing additional measures to ensure the Russian air base’s security.
Firstly: All attack aircraft operations will be from now on have fighter cover.
Secondly: We will take measures to strengthen air defenses. In order to achieve, the cruiser Moskva armed with the Fort SAM system which is the naval version of the S-300, will take up a position off Latakia’s coast. We are thus warning that any targets presenting potential danger to us will be destroyed.
Thirdly: We will end military-to-military contacts with Turkey.