Syria Crisis Enters New, Complex Phase

Syria Crisis Enters  New, Complex PhaseSyria Crisis Enters  New, Complex Phase

Turkey shot down a Russian warplane near the Syrian border on Tuesday, saying it had violated its airspace, but Moscow said it could prove the jet had not left Syrian airspace. The clash is one of the most serious publicly acknowledged standoffs between a NATO member state and Russia for half a century.

Russian President Vladimir Putin said the plane had been attacked when it was 1 kilometer inside Syria and warned of "serious consequences" for what he termed a "stab in the back", Reuters reported.

"We will never tolerate such crimes like the one committed today," Putin said.

It is the first time a Russian military plane has been downed since Moscow began a bombing campaign in Syria on September 30 at the request of Syria's President Bashar al-Assad.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the Russian leader is likely to discuss the incident with Jordanian King Abdullah II at a meeting in the Black Sea resort of Sochi on Wednesday.

Each country summoned a diplomatic representative of the other and NATO called a meeting of its ambassadors for Tuesday afternoon. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov canceled a visit to Turkey that had been due on Wednesday.

The Turkish military said the plane had been warned 10 times in the space of five minutes about violating Turkish airspace.

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.

A separate footage from Turkey's Anadolu Agency showed two pilots parachuting out of the jet before it crashed.

A source told AFP that one Russian pilot of the downed warplane was killed by rebels and the second was missing after they both parachuted. CNN Turk cited local sources as saying that one of the pilots was in the hands of Turkmen forces in Syria who were searching for the other pilot.

Several videos circulating online and shared on opposition social media sites purported to show the dead pilot surrounded by rebels from different factions.

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan was briefed by the head of the military, while Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu ordered consultations with NATO, the United Nations and related countries, their respective offices said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights monitoring group said the warplane crashed in a mountainous area in the northern countryside of Latakia Province, where there had been aerial bombardment earlier and where pro-government forces were battling insurgents on the ground.