Tuesday morning’s shootdown of a Russian Su-24 by Turkish warplanes set the stage for a major escalation of strikes against the area where the plane crashed, in rebel-held Latakia districts. Russia is now reporting it has “wiped out” the rebels in those areas.
Such retaliation was not unexpected after the plane shootdown, as the Turkmen rebels in the area killed one of the pilots who parachuted out of the plane, and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) faction in the area destroyed a rescue helicopter looking for the other pilot.
Russian officials say that as soon as they recovered that second pilot, who is alive and well, they began “massive strikes” against the rebels in the area for extended periods of time, and have destroyed all the groups operating therein.
The Turkmen faction, which is aligned with Turkey, was complaining yesterday about coming under heavy fire from Russian artillery. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has insisted the shootdown was about defending their Turkmen “brothers.”