A Russian war plane crashes in flames in a mountainous area in northern Syria after it was shot down by Turkish fighter jets near the Turkish-Syrian border, ii seen in this still image taken from video November 24, 2015. Handout photo/UPI | License Photo
ISTANBUL, Turkey, Nov. 24 (UPI) -- Russian President Putin has condemned Turkey for shooting down a Russian jet on Tuesday, calling it a "stab in the back" amid increasingly hostile relations.
Putin said the act was committed by "accomplices of terrorists," warning there would be "serious consequences" in the Kremlin's relations with Turkey. NATO is holding an extraordinary meeting in Brussels on Tuesday afternoon to discuss the incident, which could ramp up the friction between the West and Russia since Turkey is a NATO member.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov canceled his scheduled visit to Turkey on Wednesday. Russian and Turkish officials remain in dispute about the circumstances behind the downing.
Russian officials said the SU-24 fighter jet had been shot down near Syria's border with Turkey, but said the aircraft was over Syrian territory and has the data to prove it. Putin said the plane was struck at a height of 20,000 feet and less than one mile away from the Turkish border.
Russia said the plane was brought down by shelling from the ground.
Turkey said the jet was warned 10 times in a span of five minutes about being in the airspace, a claim supported by the United States, and was shot down by two F-16s.
"Understand this: Turkey is a country whose warnings should be taken seriously and listened to. Don't test Turkey's patience. Try to win its friendship," Turkey's ambassador to the United States Serdar Killic said in a tweet.
The pilots were seen ejecting from the plane before it crashed. It is unclear what happened to the pilots, but some reports say they landed in an area north of Latakia, Syria, an area controlled by rebel fighters.
Already, there is heightened tensions in Syria's crowded airspace with the United States, Russia, France, Turkey, Israel and others directly or indirectly involved in the Syrian war. A U.S-led coalition is conducting airstrikes against the Islamic State militant group operating in the country, while Russian planes have also been targeting Syrian rebels fighting against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
In developing story, a Syrian rebel group that allegedly received U.S. Tow missiles from the U.S. military reportedly destroyed a Russian rescue helicopter after the jet crashed. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said at least 10 people were aboard the helicopter and escaped after it was forced to make an emergency landing and before the rebels struck the craft. It is not known if a U.S. missile was used in the attack.