UN chief urges de-escalation after Russian jet downed

UNITED NATIONS, UNITED STATES- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Tuesday called for urgent measures to de-escalate tensions after Turkey shot down a Russian fighter plane on the Syrian border.
Ban said a "credible and thorough review" of the incident would help clarify what happened and prevent a repeat.

"The secretary-general urges all relevant parties to take urgent measures with a view to de-escalate the tensions," said UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric.
The Russia SU-24 attack plane was shot down earlier Tuesday by two Turkish F-16s after it received 10 warnings within a five-minute period, Turkey's envoy to the UN said.
Ambassador Halit Cevik said in a letter to the UN Security Council that his government was determined to defend its sovereignty, security and borders.
"Our rules of engagement are well known and are reiterated to all parties on numerous occasions," wrote Cevik.
"Turkey will not hesitate to exercise its rights emanating from international law to protect the security of its citizens and borders."
The ambassador said two SU-24 planes approached Turkish airspace in the Hatay region, flying at an altitude of 19,000 feet and that they crossed into Turkish airspace for 17 seconds.
"Despite these warnings, both planes... violated Turkish national airspace to a depth of 1.36 miles and 1.15 miles in length for 17 seconds" from 9:24 am local time, wrote the ambassador.
One plane left Turkish air space, but the second one was fired at by Turkish F-16s performing patrols in that area, said the ambassador who did not specify whether the fighter jets were Russian.
Russia insisted that the fighter jet was inside Syrian territory and President Vladimir Putin warned of "serious consequences" for Russian-Turkish relations.
Russian warplanes have been pounding Syrian rebels and Islamic State fighters, backing government forces at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
Turkey has sided with the US-led coalition that launched air strikes last year to defeat the Islamic State group.
Despite the spike in tensions, there was no immediate request for an emergency Security Council meeting.
British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft, whose country chairs the council this month, said a meeting could be held if requested and that the incident was not raised during a morning session.
Rycroft said he was "extremely concerned" and stressed the importance of "deconfliction" measures to prevent clashes in the air campaigns being waged by Russia and the US-led coalition in Syria.
Ban said the "worrying developments" underscored the need to find a political solution to end the nearly five-year war in Syria that has left 250,000 dead.

Tuesday, November 24th 2015

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