A Russian war plane was shot down by Turkish fighter jets today near the Syrian border, and Russian helicopters are conducting search and rescue operations to find the pilot who is believed to have ejected.
Russia initially claimed that the plane was brought down by artillery fire, but Turkey states that their jets shot the Russian craft down after it failed to heed their repeated warnings that it was violating Turkish air space. Syria and Russia have been conducting bombing missions in the area over the last few days.
Footage from private Turkish broadcaster Haberturk TV showed the warplane going down in flames in a woodland area, a long plume of smoke trailing behind it. The plane went down in area known by Turks as “Turkmen Mountain,” it said.
Separate footage from Turkey’s Anadolu Agency showed two pilots parachuting out of the jet before it crashed.
One of the pilots was in the hands of Turkmen forces in Syria who were searching for the other pilot, broadcaster CNN Turk reported, citing local sources.
It should go without saying that Turkey is a NATO ally of the United States. They just shot down a Russian plane. NATO is in contact with Turkish authorities as we speak. Doubtless there are many other furious phone calls taking place.
Both pilots are reportedly alive. You can see at least one parachute clearly coming down after the plane goes down in the MSNBC clip below.