US backs Turkey over downing of Russian jet
NATO member Turkey has the right to defend its own airspace, US President Barack Obama said Tuesday after Turkish forces shot down a Russian fighter jet on its border with Syria.
“Turkey, like every country, has a right to defend its territory and its airspace,” Obama said at the White House during an appearance with French President Francois Hollande.
Both Hollande and Obama warned against any escalation after the Russian jet downing, amid concern that the air clash could dramatically escalate tensions in the volatile region.
His comments followed a statement by the US military backing up Turkey’s claim that Turkish pilots had warned a Russian jet 10 times – but failed to get a response – before shooting it down.
“We were able to hear everything that was going on, these (communications) were on open channels,” military spokesman Colonel Steve Warren said.
Asked if he could confirm reports 10 warnings were issued by Turkish pilots without response, Warren said: “I can confirm that, yes.”
He added it was not immediately clear on which side of the Turkish-Syrian border the Russian jet had been flying; Turkey claims the jet breached its airspace, while Russia argues it was flying over Syria.