3 Turkish Soldiers Killed by Russian Fighter Jet During Joint Mission; Putin Expresses ‘Condolences’ to Erdogan

February 9, 2017
President Vladimir Putin meets with the members of the Russian Security Council on February 9, 2017. Photo by kremlin.ru

Vladimir Putin is pivoting toward the Middle East as the United States pulls back from the region. We will examine this dynamic in our new column on the Middle East.

The previous post in our column Putin’s Middle East Pivot can be found here.

3 Turkish Soldiers Killed by Russian Fighter Jet During Joint Mission; Putin Expresses ‘Condolences’ to Erdogan

Three Turkish soldiers were killed as a result of a strike by Russian fighter jets in the area of the Syria city of Al-Bab during a joint mission, TV Rain reported, citing a statement from the Turkish Defense Ministry in Haberturk.
Another 11 soldiers were wounded. According to the statement from Ankara, the incident was deemed an accident by Russian officials. Both sides are conducting ann investigation.
At a meeting with permanent members of the Russian Security Council, President Vladimir Putin said the strike on the Turkish military was “a mistake” and was caused by the “inconsistency of coordinates”, TV Rain reported, citing Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov.
President Vladimir Putin called Turkish Prime Minister Recep Erdogan to express condolences in connection with the incident, a statement on the Kremlin web site indicated (translation by The Interpreter):
An exchange of opinions was continued on key aspects of the crisis situation in Syria in the context of the joint battle against international terrorism. Vladimir Putin expressed condolences in connection with the tragic incident which entailed the death of several Turkish military personnel in the area of the city of Al-Bab. It was agreed to increase coordination along the military line in the course of operations in Syria against ISIL militants and other extremist organizations.

Implementation was reviewed of the results of the International Meeting on Syria in Astana with Russian, Turkish and Iranian mediation. Readiness was confirmed to actively promote further advancement of the Astana and Geneva processes on the Syrian settlement.

Putin reported on the phone call to the Security Council. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, who took part in the Security Council meeting, reported that the chiefs of staffs of Russia and Turkey had also held a telephone conversation agreed to “work on an emergency basis to improve the mechanism of coordinating joint actions.”

— Catherine A. Fitzpatrick