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Obama backs Turkish downing of Russia fighter jet, urges calm

25th Nov 2015
Obama backs Turkish downing of Russia fighter jet, urges calm

WASHINGTON (AA) – President Barack Obama on Tuesday asserted Turkey’s right to self-defense following the downing of a Russian fighter jet that Ankara says violated its airspace.

“Turkey, like every country, has a right to defend its territory and its airspace,” Obama said during a joint press conference with his French counterpart, Francois Hollande.

The American president insisted, however, that Moscow and Ankara should seek to de-escalate the situation.

“It’s very important right now for us to make sure that both the Russians and the Turks are talking to each other, find out exactly what happened and take measures to discourage any kind of escalation,” he said.

The Russian Sukhoi SU-24 was downed by Turkish F-16 fighter jets in line with Turkey’s standard rules of engagement, according to the Turkish military, which added that the Russian plane was repeatedly warned that it was violating Turkish airspace before it was fired upon.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has insisted that the plane was outside of Turkish airspace when it was brought down. Putin called jet’s downing ‘stab in the back’;

The shooting of the plane, Putin said, “represents a stab in the back by the terrorists’ accomplices. I can’t describe what has happened today in any other way. Our plane was downed over Syrian territory by an air-to-air missile from a Turkish F-16 jet.”The plane fell on Syrian territory 4 kilometers (2.5 miles) away from the Turkish border. It was flying 1 kilometer away from the Turkish border when it was attacked. In any case, neither our pilots nor our jet posed any threat to Turkey. That is obvious. They were carrying out an operation fighting against ISIL in Northern Latakia.”

“This [the downing] points to an ongoing problem with the Russian operations in the sense that they are operating very close to a Turkish border and they are going after moderate opposition that are supported by not only Turkey but a wide range of countries,” Obama said.

Hollande described the event as “a serious one,” noting that Turkey is providing its NATO allies with all of the relevant information “so that we can find out what truly happened and whether Turkey’s airspace indeed was entered into”.

“We must prevent an escalation,” he said. “The only purpose is to fight against terrorism and Daesh. This is what we must do, all of us, we, Turkey, Russia. And what just took place, like Barack said, means that we must find a solution to the Syrian crisis because we can see what the risks are otherwise, the risk of escalation.”

The State Department also stressed that it does not have a “clear understanding” of the events leading to the Russian plane’s downing.

“It’s easy to rush to judgments and to make proclamations and declarations after an incident like this. You need to gather the facts. You need to be clear about what happened, what occurred,” said spokesman Mark Toner.

Still, Toner said that if Turkmen fighters are coming under attack from Russian airstrikes “they have the right to defend themselves”.

The remarks followed an Oval Office meeting between the French and American presidents as Paris seeks greater military cooperation in the fight against Daesh after the radicals claimed an attack in Paris that killed at least 130 people and injured hundreds more.

One of the two pilots was killed in the air by fire from the ground, according to Russia’s state-run news agency RIA Novosti.

The fate of the second pilot wasn’t disclosed.

Meanwhile, a Russian marine was killed on Tuesday during an operation to rescue the two pilots, who were flying an Su-24 warplane in a combat sortie.

Russia, meanwhile, has ramped up its air campaign against what it says are Daesh targets in Syria. The U.S. and its coalition allies, however, have maintained that Russia’s actions target moderate opposition forces opposed to Russian ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Hollande is scheduled to meet with Putin in Moscow on Thursday.

Author: Michael Hernandez
Additional reporting by The Muslim News
[Photo: Russian warplane goes down in Syria’s northwestern Turkmen town of Bayirbucak near Turkey’s border on November 24, 2015. It was shot down by Turkish warplane. Photographer: Fatih Aktaş/AA]

One Response to “Obama backs Turkish downing of Russia fighter jet, urges calm”

Vae VictisNovember 25, 2015

A really stupid move by Turkey. Russia will not soon forgive or forget.

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