Turkish F-16 Shoots Down Russian Fighter

Incident happened near border with Syria.

Su-24

Su-24

Su-24 in 2009
Photo: Alexander Mishin/Wikipedia Creative Commons

A Turkish F-16 shot down a Russian Su-24 fighter bomber near the border with Syria on Tuesday after Turkish military officials said the airplane was repeatedly warned that it was violating Turkey's airspace.

Russian President Vladimir Putin reacted angrily to the incident, describing the shoot down as a "stab in the back, carried out by the accomplices of terrorists."

The pilots ejected before the jet crashed in Syria, but rebels in the area told media outlets that at least one was dead. Russia says the Su-24 was shot down over Syrian territory about a half mile from the Turkish border and crashed in flames about 2.5 miles from the border.

NATO officials met in Brussels to discuss the incident with ambassadors. The United States, meanwhile, blamed the shooting down of the supersonic frontline bomber on Russia's own policies of attacking rebels near the Turkish border rather than Islamic State terrorists elsewhere in Syria.

Turkey is a member of the NATO alliance.