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Turkey shoots down military plane on Syria border: media

map_of_turkeyTurkey on Tuesday shot down a military plane of unidentified origin on the Syrian border, local media reported, citing military sources.

The fighter jet exploded in the air and the fireball fell on a mountain on the Syrian side of the border, CNN-Turk and NTV televisions reported.

Footage posted by the state-run Anatolia news agency showed plumes of smoke rising behind a mountain a few kilometres from the Turkish border.

Two pilots ejected from the plane, NTV reported, but there was no details on their fate. Reports said Turkish F-16 jets shot down the plane.

Reports said that the plane’s country of origin had not been identified. The incident came as Russian and Syrian jets are carrying out a heavy bombing campaign against Islamist rebels in northern Syria.

A Turkish government official declined to give details when contacted by AFP, saying the authorities were still confirming the incident.

“We are tying to identify the nationality of the plane,” the official said.

However without giving further details on the nature of the incident, Turkey said it would take the issue to the United Nations and NATO.

“Necessary initiatives will be taken at NATO, UN and at the level of countries concerned by the foreign ministry upon instructions from Mr Prime Minister,” a statement from Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu’s office said.

Russian fighter jets entered Turkish air space in two separate incidents in October, prompting Ankara to summon the Russian ambassador twice to protest both violations.

Turkey and Russia have long been at loggerheads over the Syrian conflict, with Ankara seeking the overthrow of President Bashar al-Assad while Moscow does everything to keep him in power.

The Turkish military in October also shot down a Russian-made drone that had entered its air space. But Moscow denied the drone belonged to its forces.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is due to visit Turkey on Wednesday in a bid to smooth ties and find a joint approach to finding peace in Syria.



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