Turkey downs fighter jet over Syrian border

It appears that Turkish jets have just shot down a military plane that allegedly violated Turkey’s airspace. The plane crashed in Syria; two pilots ejected themselves, reportedly. (All the info so far is from Turkish sources.) PM Davutoglu has spoken to his chief of staff and plans to appeal to NATO and the UN.

Was it a Russian plane? Is Turkey going to use this as a pretext to invade Syria to raze the de-facto Kurdish state in the north of the country (Rojava)? Or does it look like something bigger and more ominous?

Update. Erdogan’s office says it was a Russian plane.

Update 2. The Russian defense ministry says a Su-24 has been shot down over Syria, presumably from the ground.


  1. One thing is certain, and that is we can expect a colossal misinformation campaign to be launched (actually, it’s in full-flow already: I just checked RT) by the Kremlin, packed full of the usual bullshit, half-truths, and contradictory statements. The effect will be half the world saying “nobody knows for sure what happened” even if there is overwhelming evidence that the Russian jet violated Turkish airspace and didn’t heed the warnings.

    There will come a time when Russia needs people to believe its version of events and everybody will assume they are lying even when they aren’t. For a country which is staring down the barrel of years of jihadist violence directed at its citizens and will certainly need international help in combating it, this ought to be a serious concern.

    • RT is programmed to do that, I’m afraid: it’s their default behavior and they simply don’t know how to speak the truth. Russia would benefit most from a straightforward presentation of the facts: sum up Ankara’s view (“The Turkish government said the Russian plane had been warned 10 times to turn back as it approached the border, but had still flown into Turkish airspace for a few seconds,” according to The Guardian), show a map of the area (it explains a lot) and quote Erdogan demanding “respect.” Also show the Turkmen warlord speak of killing the parachuting pilots (if confirmed, of course). The viewer would draw her own conclusions. But the Kremlin always behaves as if it knows it’s done something wrong and perverted, even in those rare cases when it’s probably doing something right.

  2. Russia has two problems here. The first, which is an extension of Jake’s point, is that Russia has been caught blatantly lying about who they were targetting in Syria. They got involved under the pretext that they were fighting ISIS when it was common knowledge they were there to prop up Assad and were engaging the non-ISIS rebels instead. We saw the same blatant, shameless lying when the litte green men turned up in Crimea, followed a week later by smirks all round as the oh-so-clever Russians outsmarted the gullible West. Long term, this will hurt them badly.

    Secondly, Turkey has complained that Russia was attacking ethnic Turkmen. Russia did not set the precedent of intervening in another nation under the guise of protecting their ethnic brethren, but they applied this precedent in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine. If Turkey follows suit, they will have every right to arm these Turkmen rebels to the teeth, including supplying them with sophisticated AA weaponry, in exactly the same manner Russia is doing in East Ukraine. Turkey could make Russia’s involvement along its borders very costly indeed if it has a mind to, and the Turks want to see the back of Assad and Russia is preventing that. For all Russia’s bluster, there is not much they can do to Turkey on their home patch in that part of the world. Plus, that coveted naval base in Sevastopol isn’t much use if Turkey isn’t your friend, is it?

    • I agree with you on both points, Tim. On a personal, I would say emotional, level, I was outraged by Putin’s Crimea grab and especially by his incursion in Donbass. It was fratricidal; it was anti-Western; it was promoting barbarism; it was detrimental to Russia’s long-term welfare and dishonest to Russian soldiers. Even an open war would have been less shameful, although equally fratricidal and anti-American.

      On a practical plane, Putin’s hybrid war in Ukraine set a precedent waiting to backfire on Russia.

      In the Syrian war, I don’t feel an attachment to any of the parties. I sympathize with Israel and don’t like Erdogan’s Turkey. My concern is that Putin will get Russia mired in this unwinnable war for a long time. One could expect his regime to crumble as a result… one thinks of the perestroika, which started seven years after the Afghan invasion. But the big difference is the mujahedeen did not blow up civilians in Soviet cities.

  3. In the Syrian war, I don’t feel an attachment to any of the parties. I sympathize with Israel and don’t like Erdogan’s Turkey.

    I am of the same opinion, and I agree with the rest of your paragraph too.

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