Turkey offers condolences for 2015 downing of Russian jet near Syria

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has apologized for his country's armed forces shooting down a Russian warplane at the Syrian border last year.

The apology was confirmed Monday by both Ankara and Moscow.

Turkish forces shot down the plane, which was supporting Russian efforts in Syria, in November, alleging that it violated Turkish airspace. Russia has denied that allegation and demanded an apology. The incident severely frayed the countries' previously robust relations.

Erdogan made the apology in a letter to Russian President Vladimir Putin, Turkey's presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said in a statement.

Erdogan said he "would like to inform the family of the deceased Russian pilot that I share their pain and to offer my condolences to them. May they excuse us," according to the statement.

The Kremlin confirmed that Putin received the apology.

"Erdogan expresses deep regret for what happened and emphasizes readiness to do everything possible to restore the traditionally friendly relations between Turkey and Russia, as well as work together on crisis events in the region and the fight against terrorism," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in comments reported by Interfax.

Russia and Turkey have been at odds about the Syrian civil war, in which they are supporting opposing sides. Russia has been waging a bombing campaign to support the Syrian government in an effort to restore some stability to the country.

Meanwhile, Turkey supports certain rebel groups seeking to overthrow the Syrian government, which has been accused of crimes against humanity, including killing civilians.

Turkish forces shot down the Russian warplane about two months after Russia began its military campaign in Syria.

Last update: Tue, 12/07/2016 - 13:50
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