Turkey tells UN it shot down plane, defends right to do so

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu delivered a press briefing after a meeting in Belgium on Nov 30.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu delivered a press briefing after a meeting in Belgium on Nov 30.PHOTO: EPA

UNITED NATIONS (REUTERS) - Turkey told the UN Security Council on Tuesday it had shot down on an unidentified plane that violated Turkish airspace and defended its right to do so, as UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon appealed to Turkey and Russia to reduce tensions.

Russia has accused Turkey of shooting down one of its fighter jets nearly a mile inside Syria and Russian President Vladimir Putin and warned of  "serious consequences."

Ban hopes "a credible and thorough review will clarify the events and help prevent future recurrences," UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

"He urges all those who are engaged in military activities in Syria, especially air campaigns, to maximise operational measures to avoid unintended consequences," Dujarric said.

A US-led coalition has been bombing Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants in Syria and Iraq for more than a year, while Russia began air strikes in Syria in September.

In a letter to the 15-member council and Ban, Turkish UN Ambassador Halit Cevik said two planes approached Turkish airspace on Tuesday morning and were warned 10 times in five minutes to change direction.

Cevik said both planes then flew more than a mile into Turkey for 17 seconds.

He said the nationality of the planes was unknown.

"Following the violation, plane 1 left Turkish national airspace. Plane 2 was fired at while in Turkish national airspace by Turkish F-16s performing air combat patrolling in the area," Cevik wrote in the letter, seen by Reuters.

"Plane 2 crashed onto the Syria side of the Turkish-Syrian border," he said.

When asked if Russia would raise the issue at the Security Council, Ambassador Vitaly Churkin said: "I don't know, maybe."

Britain's UN ambassador, Matthew Rycroft, president of the council for November, said no country had yet asked for a meeting but that he was ready to convene one if asked.

Cevik said Turkey had written to the Security Council on six previous occasions, dating to 2012, regarding violations of Turkey's sovereignty, territorial integrity and security.

He wrote that "Turkey will not hesitate to exercise its rights emanating from international law to protect the security of its citizens and borders in compliance with the established rules and regulations."