Turkmen commander Alpaslan Celik says the pilots of a Russian war plane downed in Syria were shot dead by his forces as they fell from the sky. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).
ROUGH CUT (NO REPORTER NARRATION) STORY: A deputy commander of rebel Turkmen forces in Syria said his men shot at two Russian pilots after they ejected from their war plane which was downed by Turkey on Tuesday (November 24) for violating its airspace. The downing of the jet was one of the most serious publicly acknowledged clashes between a NATO member country and Russia for half a century. A deputy commander of a Turkmen brigade told reporters near where the plane came down that his forces had shot dead the two pilots as they descended. "Both of the pilots were retrieved dead. Our comrades opened fire into the air and they died in the air," Alpaslan Celik said near the Syrian village of Yamadi as he held what he said was a piece of a pilot's parachute. Both Russia and its ally, Syria's government, have carried out strikes in the area where the plane came down. A Syrian military source said the reported downing was being investigated. President Vladimir Putin called Turkey's downing of a Russian fighter jet a stab in the back administered by "the accomplices of terrorists," saying the incident would have serious consequences for Moscow's relations with Ankara. He said Russian pilots and planes had in no way threatened Turkey, but had merely been carrying out their duty to fight Islamic State militants inside Syria. That contradicts Turkey's assertion that the aircraft had been warned multiple times that it was straying into Turkish airspace before it was shot down. Ankara has traditionally expressed solidarity with Syrian Turkmens, who are Syrians of Turkish descent. Turkey called this week for a U.N. Security Council meeting to discuss attacks on Turkmens in neighboring Syria, and last week Ankara summoned the Russian ambassador to protest against the bombing of their villages. About 1,700 people have fled the mountainous Syrian area near to the Turkish border as a result of fighting in the last three days, a Turkish official said on Monday. Russian jets have bombed the area in support of ground operations by Syrian government forces.