Turkey downs Russian warplane near Syria border – Kareem Shaheen in Beirut and Shaun Walker in Moscow Tuesday 24 November 2015 04.21 EST

Turkish military official says fighter jets destroyed plane after it violated country’s airspace, which Russia denies

Russian fighter jet shot down near Turkey-Syria border

Russian fighter jet shot down near Turkey-Syria border

Russian fighter jet shot down near Turkey-Syria border

Nato-member Turkey has shot down a Russian warplane in the first time the alliance and Moscow have come to blows directly over the crisis in Syria.

Ankara and Moscow gave conflicting accounts of the incident, which appears to have occurred in an area near the Turkish-Syrian border straddling Iskenderun and Latakia.

The Turkish military said it scrambled two F-16 fighter jets after a plane penetrated Turkish airspace in the province of Hatay at 9.20am on Tuesday morning, warning it to leave 10 times in five minutes before it was shot down.

It was unclear if the plane was shot down by the fighter jets or by ground-based defence systems.

Russia’s defence ministry, in a series of tweets, confirmed a Russian SU-24 had been shot down, but insisted the plane had never left Syrian airspace.

“At all times, the SU-24 was exclusively over the territory of Syria,” the defence ministry said. “The SU-24 was at 6000 metres and preliminary information suggests it was brought down by fire from the ground. The circumstances are being investigated.”

The ministry said preliminary information suggested that the pilots managed to successfully eject from the plane. The Turkish network CNN Turk said that one of the pilots had been captured by local Turkmen tribesmen in the area.

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