The violence in the middle east is likely to see no end soon as tensions grew significantly between NATO backed Turkey and Russia after the reported downing of a Russian Su-24 by one or more Turkish F-16 fighter jets.
Reports are that the aircraft was near the border with Turkey and Syria on its way back to the Hmeymim airbase outside of Latakia in Syria when it was struck by air to air missiles reportedly fired by Turkish F-16 fighter(s).
Initial reports had been that the aircraft was downed by surface to air missile fire but an official statement by Russian president Vladimir Putin confirmed that it was indeed air to air missile fire.
Preliminary reports are that the pilots of the aircraft were killed either on landing or by rebels in the area. Photos of the body of atleast one of the pilots have surface on various pro rebel twitter feeds.
Putin condemned the downing of the aircraft, referring to Turkey as “accomplices of terrorists” and said that the attack will have a significant impact on Russian-Turkish relations.
A visit by Sergei Lavrov to Turkey have so far been suspended as the first casualty of the incident.
What was the aircraft doing?
The Su-24 that was reportedly shot down by the Turkish military was flying over an area where Syrian army forces, backed by Russian airstrikes, had been advancing against western backed rebels. This mountainous area forms the northern fringes and borderlands of the Syrian Lattakia province which is a pro Syrian government region on the Syrian coast.
Russia has been conducting airstrikes against both western backed rebels and Islamic State militants in Syria since October which has propelled the Syrian Army to advance in several areas.
Video of the crash: