Putin criticizes Turkey for not apologizing over Russian jet downing


President Vladimir Putin criticized Turkey on Thursday for not apologizing for downing a Russian Su-24 bomber near the Syrian border amid a growing spat between Moscow and Ankara, state media reported.

“We have not yet heard an apology from the highest political level of Turkey. Nor do we hear proposals to repair the damage or promises to punish the perpetrators for the crime committed,” TASS news agency quoted Putin as saying.

The Russian warplane was shot down by Turkish fighter jets on Tuesday as it returned from a mission in support of Syrian government forces.

The Russian leader added that “one gets the impression that the Turkish leadership is deliberately steering Russian-Turkish relations into a dead end. This is regrettable.”

He insisted that the incident ran “counter to common sense and international law: The aircraft was shot down over Syrian territory.”

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev meanwhile described the “attack” as an “act of aggression towards Russia,” TASS reported.

On Wednesday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said the downing of the jet “looks like a planned provocation.”

One pilot died, apparently from Syrian rebel gunfire after he ejected, while the other landed safely and was rescued by Russian and Syrian special forces.

Ankara claimed the plane crossed its airspace despite repeated warnings over a five-minute period, while Moscow insists it was over Syrian territory at all times.

Russia, a major ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, started to launch an air campaign in Syria on September 30.

Turkey is a major backer of Syrian rebels and has previously warned against Russian violations of its airspace.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan Thursday dismissed claims that his country buys oil from Islamic State in what appears to be a veiled response to Russian accusations.

Erdogan said those who accuse Turkey of buying oil from Islamic State, which is active in Syria and Iraq, are “liars,” the online edition of Turkish newspaper Today’s Zaman reported.

“If you are seeking the source of weaponry and financial power of Daesh, the first place to look is the Assad regime and countries that act with it,” the report quoted Erdogan, using an Arabic acronymn for Islamic State.

Russia says its airstrikes in Islamic State target Islamic State and other extremist groups.

Syrian opposition and its backers have repeatedly said the strikes hit moderate rebels fighting both al-Assad and Islamic State.

Warplanes, believed to be Russian, mounted on Thursday a series of strikes near the Syrian-Turkish border for the second consecutive day, a monitoring group said.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported that the bombardment targeted a rebel-held area between the towns of Aziz and the Bab as-Salamah on the northern outskirts of Aleppo in northern Syria.

No casualties were reported.

On Wednesday, at least four people were killed when jets hit near Bab as-Salamah, a main border crossing between Syria and Turkey.

Turkey closed the crossing in March.

Local activists said the jets had bombed at least three trucks carrying goods and relief aid.

“Those killed were mainly the truck drivers,” Omar al-Halabi, an Aleppo-based activist, said.

More than 250,000 people are estimated to have been killed in Syria’s conflict since it erupted in 2011.