The war in Syria is metastasizing, as long predicted by this author and others. It’s perilously close to a direct confrontation of Turkey and Russia in combat — a situation that didn’t start with the warplane shootdown today, but rather seems to have culminated in it. The ground picture in the area of the shootdown is the key.
What we know for sure today is that Turkey shot down a Russian Su-24 Fencer attack aircraft, which the Turks say was violating their air space. The Turks report that an F-16 fighter pair took out the Russian aircraft.
It also appears that Russian helicopters sent on a rescue mission for the Su-24 air crew were destroyed. If a video posted by Syrian rebels (below) is valid – assuming it shows something the rebels pulled off today (24 November) – it looks like the rebels used TOW missiles to attack the Russian helos while they were on the ground at the Su-24 crash site.
These rapid-fire events raise questions that will not be answered at a leisurely pace. The basic question is what Russia and Turkey will do now. But there is also the question of “why now?” Turkey has been closely tracking Russian air activity for weeks. The two air forces have interacted at dangerous levels before; the Aviationist has a good summary here. But today, instead of warnings and sword-rattling, the Turks shot the Russian aircraft down. Read More…