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US Says Turkey Downed Russian Jet While in Syrian Airspace

If US officials are correct, Turkey committed a textbook war crime by shooting down a plane that was operating in Syrian airspace at the invitation of the Syrian government

This post first appeared on Russia Insider

A brief report by Reuters has completely shattered Ankara's story of the Russian jet joyriding in its airspace: 

The United States believes that the Russian jet shot down by Turkey on Tuesday was hit inside Syrian airspace after a brief incursion into Turkish airspace, a U.S. official told Reuters, speaking on condition of anonymity.

<figcaption>Even the US says it was shot down in Syrian airspace.</figcaption>
Even the US says it was shot down in Syrian airspace.

The official said that assessment was based on detection of the heat signature of the jet.

Even if we assume that the Russian jet briefly entered Turkish airspace, it would be a clear violation of international law for Turkish fighter jets to attack the plane inside Syria. 

What's puzzling is that it's highly unlikely that Turkey acted without consent from the United States. Is Washington having second thoughts about this clear provocation? 

It's interesting that Obama has expressed support for Turkey, without explicitly stating that Russia violated Turkish airspace: 

[This incident] points to an ongoing problem with the Russian operations. They are operating very close to a Turkish border, and they are going after moderate opposition that are supported by not only Turkey but a wide range of countries.

The problem with the "moderate opposition" line is that Reuters reported today that al Qaeda's Nusra Front operates in the region that was being targeted by Russia during the time of the shoot-down. 

And just a reminder: NATO still "stands in solidarity" with Turkey.

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