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Pilot: Turkey did not issue warning before downing Russian warplane

Published 25/11/2015

A Russian airman who survived the downing of his warplane has said Turkish jets did not issue any warnings before the incident.

Captain Konstantin Murakhtin told a Russian TV station that his plane was flying over Syrian territory and did not violate Turkish airspace.

Mr Murakhtin was rescued early on Wednesday by Russian and Syrian commando and was speaking in televised comments from the Russian Hemeimeem air base in Syria.

He added that he wants to keep flying missions from the base "to pay them back for my commander".

Mr Murakhtin's comments came as Russian forces were reportedly pounding insurgent-held areas in Syria's Latakia province, unleashing a wave of air strikes on mountains near where the Russian jet was shot down.

Jahed Ahmad, a spokesman for a rebel brigade in the region affiliated with the Free Syrian Army, said the Russians appear to be taking "revenge" for the plane's downing by Turkey, a key backer of the rebels in the area.

Speaking from inside Syria via Skype, he said the Russian jets were providing cover for advancing Syrian ground forces and their Lebanese Hezbollah allies.

Vladimir Putin had earlier ordered state-of-the-art air defence missile systems to be deployed at the Hemeimeem air base, which is located just about 50 kilometres (30 miles) south of the border with Turkey.

The S-400 missile systems are capable of targeting Turkish jets with deadly precision.

The Russian president's move raised the threat of a military confrontation between his country and Nato member Turkey. If Russia shot down a Turkish plane, Nato would be required to intervene.

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