Downed Su-24 Pilot Found 'Safe And Sound', Taken to Hmeymim Base
(Source: Sputnik News; published Nov 25, 2015)
Russia’s defense ministry says the Su-24 Fencer was shot down by an infra-red guided missile, which implies close range, sometime during the 17 seconds that the Russian aircraft was in Turkish airspace. (LM file photo)
The rescue operation of Russia's Su-24 navigator has been successfully completed with the pilot back at the Hmeymim airbase safe and sound, Russian Defense Ministry Gen. Sergei Shoigu said [Wednesday].

"The rescue operation was completed successfully. The navigator is back at our airbase. [He is] safe and sound," the minister said at the Ministry of Defense board meeting.

Shoigu noted that the operation lasted 12 hours and thanked "all our men, who risked [their lives] working through the night."

"I reported the success to the Commander in Chief (Russia's President Vladimir Putin). He asked me to thank all the personnel who took part in this operation," Shoigu said.

Vladimir Putin said that the commander killed in Syria will be awarded the Star of Hero of the Russian Federation posthumously. The rescued pilot will also be given state honors.

"He is safe, the navigator, and <…> is already at the airbase. And he, just like the rest of the rescue team, will be granted state awards," Russia's leader said.


Turkey Claims No Knowledge Jet Shot Down Near Syrian Border Was Russian
(Source: Sputnik News; published Nov 24, 2015)
According to Turkey's letter to the United Nation's Security Council regarding its shooting down of a Russian bomber, the Turkish military did not know the nationality of the plane.

"This morning (24 November) 2 Su-24 planes, the nationality of which are unknown have approached Turkish national airspace in Yayladaga/Hatay region," the letter reads, drafted for the UN Security Council by the Turkish Ambassador.

Earlier, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan defended the military's actions as being "fully in line with Turkey's rules of engagement," and claimed "all efforts to avoid" the incident had been made.

"We did not want this situation to happen, but everybody has to respect Turkey's right to defend its borders," Erdogan said after a security meeting.

On Tuesday, Turkish F-16s shot down a Russian Su-24M Fencer bomber jet which they claim had violated Turkish airspace. Russia has maintained that its aircraft never entered Turkey — a fact confirmed by Syrian air defense command — and were conducting legitimate operations over Syria, where Moscow has been targeting the self-proclaimed Islamic State terrorist group.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called the incident a "stab in the back, carried out against us by accomplices of terrorists."

Click here for the New York Times wrap-up: “Sorting Out What Russia and Turkey Say Happened in the Sky”

One Dead as Russian Mi-8 Helicopter Attacked During Rescue Mission in Syria
(Source: Sputnik News; published Nov 24, 2015)
A Russian Mi-8 helicopter came under attack while conducting a search and rescue operation, searching for the crew of the downed Su-24 in Syria. One naval infantry soldier was reported killed, the helicopter destroyed by mortar fire.

The Russian General Staff said that two Mi-8s were involved in the operation to save the crew of the downed Su-24 bomber jet.

One helicopter was shot down, its crew evacuated to the Russian base at Hmeymim.

"A search-and-rescue operation involving two Mi-8 helicopters was carried out, charged with evacuating the pilots from the landing site. During the operation, as a result of small-arms fire, one of the helicopters was damaged, and forced to make a landing on neutral territory. One naval infantry soldier of contract service was killed," Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi, the head of the Main Operations Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces, told reporters on Tuesday.

The officer noted that the "personnel from the search-and-rescue team and the helicopter's crew have been evacuated and are now located at the Hmeymim air base. The downed helicopter was destroyed by mortar fire from territory controlled by armed gangs."

"The search-and-rescue operation tasked with finding the crew of the downed Russian bomber continues," Rudskoi added, emphasizing that the territories in which the operation was conducted is believed to be controlled by radical rebel groups.

A Russian Su-24M Fencer jet crashed in Syria earlier in the day with two pilots aboard. Ankara claims that its F-16s shot down the plane because it violated the country's airspace. Russia has countered Turkey's accusations, President Vladimir Putin saying that the aircraft was 0.6 miles away from the Turkish border when it was shot down.
According to the Russian leader, the crashed aircraft was not posing any threat to Turkey when it was struck by an air-to-air missile from the Turkish jet.

Russia Deploys Maritime Air Defense After Jet Shot Down Over Syria
(Source: Russian Ministry of Defence; issued Nov 24, 2015)
Moscow will deploy a warship off the Syrian coast near Latakia to strengthen the defense of its air base there, the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces announced on Tuesday after Turkish warplanes shot down a Russian strike aircraft.

Russian fighter jets will now accompany all of Moscow's missions against Islamic State targets in Syria, the General Staff said. Prior to Tuesday's attack, Russian bombers were conducting their missions without air cover.

Turkish warplanes shot down a Russian Su-24M bomber aircraft that Turkey said had violated its airspace. Both pilots ejected, and one was fatally shot while parachuting to the ground, the Russian Defense Ministry later confirmed.

Moscow has insisted its aircraft was not in Turkish airspace and posed no threat. The Russian Defense Ministry has suspended military contact with Turkey over the plane downing, which President Vladimir Putin called "a stab in the back."

Later Tuesday, a Russian Mi-8 helicopter conducting a search-and-rescue mission for the other pilot was damaged by a rebel missile in Syria. One naval infantry soldier reportedly was killed in that attack.

The surviving crew reportedly was evacuated to the Russian base at Hmeymim, Syria.

Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoi, a spokesman for the General Staff, released a statement, saying in part:

"The General Staff is currently working out additional measures to ensure the security of the Russian air base. First: all actions of strike aircraft will be carried out only under cover of fighter planes. Second: measures will be taken to strengthen defense. To this end, the cruiser Moskva, equipped with Fort air defense system, similar to S-300, will assume position in the coastal region of Latakia. We caution that any targets, representing a potential danger for us, will be destroyed. Third: Contacts with Turkey on military lines will be discontinued."

Russia took the neglected Hmeymim Air Base in Latakia – just 30 miles from the Turkish border – and transformed it into the strategic center of Moscow's military operation against the Islamic State. The base houses hundreds of military personnel and has bays for more than 50 aircraft.


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