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LATAKIA /Syria/, November 30. /TASS/. Russia’s Sukhoi Su-34 fighter-bombers (NATO reporting name: Fullback) have for the first time taken, in addition to bombs, short-and medium-range air-to-air missiles on combat mission in Syria for their protection, spokesman for the Russian Aerospace Forces Colonel Igor Klimov reported on Monday.
"The Russian Su-34 fighter-bombers today have for the first time taken on combat mission not only the OFAB-500 air bombs and KAB-500 guided bombs, but also short-and medium-range air-to-air missiles. The planes are equipped with missiles for their defence," Klimov said.
According to him, the missiles "are equipped with target seeking devices and are capable of hitting air targets within the range of 60 kilometres."
An F-16 fighter jet of the Turkish Air Force brought Russia’s Su-24M frontline bomber down in the morning of Tuesday, November 24. Turkish defence officials claimed the Russian crew had intruded into Turkish airspace in the area of the Syrian-Turkish land-surface border. However, the Russian Defense Ministry says the Su-24M was flying over the Syrian territory and there was now intrusion in Turkish airspace.
The crew - Lt Col Oleg Peshkov and Capt Konstantin Murakhtin managed to eject themselves from the aircraft but Lt Col Peshkov was killed in midair by gunfire opened by militants from among the ethnic Turkomans.
Capt Murakhtin was rescued and taken to the Russian airbase at Hmeimin, Latakia province.
The search and rescue operation involved two Mi-8 helicopters. One of them was damaged by gunfire and made a forced landing. A contract marine serviceman died in the incident while the rest of the search party was evacuated to a safe place. The damaged helicopter was destroyed later by mortar fire from a land area controlled by militants.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said, speaking at the ceremony of the presentation of credentials by new foreign ambassadors on Thursday that Turkey was steering the relations into the gridlock as it neither apologized, nor offered to repair the damage, nor promised to punish those responsible. "We have not heard yet apologies from the highest political level of Turkey. Nor do we hear proposals to repair the damage or promises to punish the perpetrators for the committed crime," Putin said. "One gets the impression that the Turkish leadership is steering deliberately the Russian-Turkish relations into the dead end, which is regrettable," he added.
In an interview with CNN, Erdogan warned Moscow that Turkey would take steps if its warplane were downed by the Russian S-400 missile system in case it violated the Syrian airspace. "I think if there is a party that needs to apologize, it is not us," he said. "Those who violated our airspace are the ones who need to apologize."