March 4, 2017 / 5:32 PM / 2 years ago

Turkey says warplane, probably Syrian, crashed near border

ANKARA (Reuters) - A warplane probably belonging to the Syrian air force crashed on the Turkish side of the border with Syria on Saturday and the pilots appeared to have bailed out, a local Turkish governor was quoted as saying.

Syrian state television quoted an army source as saying the air force had lost contact with a fighter jet on a mission near the Turkish border and that a search was under way to find the pilot.

Turkish news agency Dogan cited Hatay provincial Governor Erdal Ata as saying the wreckage of the plane had been found on the fringes of the Amanos mountains. It was not clear why it had crashed.

“We have the impression that the pilots bailed out as the cockpit was empty when the wreckage was found,” Ata said.

Turkey’s Prime Minister Binali Yildirim had earlier suggested it had come down on the Syrian side. “It’s not clear why the plane crashed. It may be due to weather conditions,” he said.

Combat operations by many militia and government forces come close to Turkey’s long frontier.

Turkey has been one of the foremost critics of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, and supports rebels fighting him in the country’s six-year-old war. It currently has armed forces involved in operations along the Syrian side of the frontier.

Reporting by Ece Toksabay; Editing by Mark Trevelyan

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