THE LEVANT NEWS –Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, in Wednesday’s phone conversation with US Secretary of State John Kerry, pointed to a gross violation of the Russian-US memorandum of ensuring safety of flights of combat aircraft in Syria, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported Wednesday.
“The situation around an unprovoked attack by Turkey’s Air Force on a Russian bomber, which was fulfilling the task to fight terrorists on Syrian territory, was discussed,” the ministry said.
“The minister pointed to a gross violation of the Russian-American memorandum on ensuring safety of combat aircraft flights in Syria, in which the United States assumed responsibility for observance of relevant regulations by all participants of the coalition it leads, including Turkey,” it said.
An F-16 fighter of the Turkish Air Force downed on Tuesday Russia’s Su-24M bomber (NATO reporting name Fencer) over the territory of Syria.
The Su-24M crew managed to eject, but one of the two pilots was killed by fire from the ground, the search for the second continued. The second pilot has been rescued.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earlier on Wednesday noted that Moscow knows the US always demands from its coalition members in Syria to coordinate use of US combat planes. Thus, he pointed to the possibility of the Turkish authorities agreeing with the United States their decision to order its warplanes in the air to shoot down the Russian plane.
“Some members of the coalition, including those providing their combat planes for strikes against Iraq and Syria have confided to us the planes involved were of US manufacture and the Americans normally request US permission for such operations,” Lavrov said. “As far as I understand, our plane was downed by a US-made F-16. It remains to be seen whether the US requirement is applicable to Turkey, and if it is, I would like to know if Turkey had asked the United States for permission to send its planes on a combat mission and to shoot down a plane, albeit probably an identified one, over Syrian territory.”