NATO calls 'extraordinary meeting' after Turkey downs Russian jet

Ankara said two of its F16 fighters shot down a Russian Su-24 after it violated Turkish airspace 10 times

Afp November 24, 2015
Turkish riot police stand guard in front of the Russian consulate in Istanbul during a demonstration against Russia's policies towards Syria on November 24, 2015. PHOTO: AFP

BRUSSELS: NATO ambassadors will hold an "extraordinary" meeting Tuesday at Ankara's request to discuss Turkey's shooting down of a Russian fighter jet along the Syrian border, an alliance official said.

"At the request of Turkey, the North Atlantic Council will hold an extraordinary meeting at (1600 GMT). The aim of this extraordinary NAC is for Turkey to inform Allies about the downing of a Russian airplane," the official told AFP.

"NATO is monitoring the situation closely. We are in contact with Turkish authorities."

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Ankara said two of its F16 fighters shot down a Russian Su-24 after it violated Turkish airspace 10 times within a five-minute period along the Syrian border. Russia says its aircraft was in Syrian airspace.

The North Atlantic Council consists of ambassadors from the 28 NATO member states. It meets regularly but can be convened into emergency session if one of the allies feels its security is under threat.

But in an apparent sign of caution, Turkey did not request the meeting under NATO's Article Four, under which a member declares that its territorial integrity, political independence or security is under threat.

Ankara did invoke NATO's Article Four back in October to call just such an emergency meeting after Russian planes violated its airspace several times following the start of Moscow's air campaign against Syrian rebels.

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On that occasion, the North Atlantic Council warned of "the extreme danger of such irresponsible behaviour" by Russian aircraft.

All 28 NATO members pledge a one-for-all, all-for-one response to any military threat if a member invokes what is known as Article Five when it comes under attack.

The only time Article Five has been invoked was by the United States after the September 11, 2001 attacks on New York and Washington.

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Turkey, the second largest military power in NATO after the United States, has invoked Article Four several times as the Syrian conflict has spilled over the border.

In response, NATO deployed Patriot missiles which can shoot down both aircraft and incoming missiles, in the south but they were due to be withdrawn at the end of this year.

NATO said previously the Patriot deployment was being reviewed.

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