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NATO backs Turkey after downing of Russian warplane

NATO backs Ankara after Turkey downed a Russian warplane that breached its airspace on Tuesday, Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg has said.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels on Tuesday, Stoltenberg said: “As we have repeatedly made clear, we stand in solidarity with Turkey and support territorial integrity of our NATO ally Turkey.”

“I call for calm and de-escalation […] diplomacy,” Stoltenberg said, echoing similar comments made by EU officials on Tuesday.

“That is why I welcome contact between Moscow and Ankara,” he said.

In a statement on its website, the Turkish General Staff said a “warplane of unknown nationality” had breached Turkish airspace over Yayladagi, in Hatay province, which borders northwestern Syria.

“The allied assessments we have gotten from several allies are consistent with information we have been provided from Turkey,” Stoltenberg said.

The military did not specify the type of plane but Turkish presidential sources and the Russian Ministry of Defense identified the aircraft as a Russian SU-24.

“What we have seen is that most of the attacks by Russia so far have been targeted towards targets in parts of Syria where ISIL [Daesh] is not present,” Stoltenberg said.

Media footage showed two parachutes floating to the ground before the aircraft crashed.

The plane was brought down in northwest Syria near the Turkmen town of Bayirbucak.

Russian warplanes previously violated Turkish airspace twice in October. The incidents came within a few days of the start of Russia’s air campaign in Syria on Sept. 30 and led to international condemnation.

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