TURKEY scrambled six pairs of fighter jets last night as tensions grow between the country and Russia following the assassination of a Russian ambassador.
Twelve F-16 fighter planes took off from Eskisehir Air Base at around 7:30pm in a “loud blast” just a day after Andrei Karlov was shot dead in the Turkish capital Ankara, which Russia say they consider was an act of terror.
Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the attack was aimed at hurting ties in Russia – and later Putin branded the shooting an “undoubted provocation” in a TV interview.
Karlov was gunned down by a member of Turkey’s anti-riot police as he prepared to give a speech at the opening of an art exhibition.
The killer, 22-year-old Mevlut Mert Altintas, assassinated him in protest of Putin’s brutal military campaign in neighbouring Syria, yelling “We die in Aleppo, you die here” over the ambassador’s body.
He fired at least eight times before shouting in both Turkish and Arabic: “God is great” and “Don’t forget Aleppo, don’t forget Syria.”
He died after a 15-minute shootout with police.
Relations between Russia and Turkey have been strained since Putin decided to support Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad’s six-year war against rebels.
Russia led with airstrikes on Aleppo which has now fallen to pro-government forces.
It comes just over a year after Russia were accused off violating Turkish airspace in October last year as they intervened in the Syrian civil war.
Turkey then retaliated with F-16 fighter jets, which shot down a Russian Sukhoi SU-24 warplane near the border of Turkey’s Hatay region last November.
But things seemed to be getting better when Vladimir Putin offered support to Turkey’s President . Erdrogan in October after a failed military coup.
Turkey itself has been rocked by a series of terror attacks, with 44 people killed in bombings in Instanbul just over a week ago.