Russia urges Turkey to arrest rebels over pilot's death

Moscow claims Turkmen rebel comments on Russian pilot shot dead after jet downed last month indicates his complicity.

    Ankara says that the Russian jet strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings before being downed last month [EPA]
    Ankara says that the Russian jet strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings before being downed last month [EPA]

    The Russian government has called for Turkey to arrest rebels it suspects killed the pilot of the jet shot down last month on the Syrian border.

    Maria Zakharova, a foreign ministry spokeswoman, said in a statement on Wednesday that Moscow "demands that the Turkish authorities take immediate steps to apprehend Alparslan Celik and his accomplices ... for the murder".

    The statement came after Celik - a Turkmen fighter and citizen of Turkey - said in an interview published by the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet that his "conscience cannot be bothered by a person who dropped bombs at Turkmen civilians every day".

    Both pilots aboard the downed Su-24 aircraft ejected and parachuted to the ground on the Syrian side of the border, but one of them was killed by gunfire on the ground.

    "Revenge is the most natural right," Celik said in an interview, though he did not claim responsibility for the pilot's death.

    Moscow and Russia have been locked in a major dispute over the downing of the jet on November 24, with Russia imposing a raft of economic sanctions against Turkey.

    READ MORE: Turkey's president warns Russia 'not to play with fire'
    Zakharova said the publication of Celik's comments in a major Turkish newspaper had angered and surprised Moscow, and accused the media outlet of being a "platform where terrorists and murderers brag about their crimes and spread hate of Russia and the Russian people through nationalistic ideology".

    She added that Celik's statements constituted an admission of his "direct involvement in the murder of the Russian pilot".

    Turkish authorities have accused Russia of "ethnic cleansing" in Syria, targeting Turkmen and Syrians that oppose the government of President Bashar al-Assad, Moscow's long-time ally.

    Ankara also says that the Russian jet strayed into its airspace and ignored repeated warnings, while Moscow insists it did not cross over from Syria and accuses Turkey of a planned provocation.

     Turkey shoots down Russian jet on Syrian border

    SOURCE: Agencies


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