Moscow has denied claims concerning its “guidance” in downing a Turkish jet in Syria and “eliminating" two pilots after the crash this July. The assertion of Russian involvement was made on an Al Arabiya program based on “highly-classified docs.”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry said the information presented by the Saudi-owned news channel on Saturday is “utter nonsense.”
“It is ridiculous even to comment on this nonsense, but, unfortunately, we have to,” reads the Monday statement. “These far-from-harmless fantasies are based on 'intelligence databases,' obtained by Al Arabiya from open sources, including the official website of the RIA Novosti news agency." It continued, “The authors of this forgery did not even bother to remove the respective logo from the allegedly ‘secret document.’”
The response from the Russian Foreign Ministry follows an Al Arabyia claim of evidence showing that Russia was involved in downing a Turkish fighter jet in Syria in July, as well as the subsequent capture of two pilots. The allegations came out on a program aired on Saturday as part of a larger, special news magazine purportedly based on newly-leaked Syrian intelligence.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Aleksandr Lukashevich accused some Arab media of “unscrupulous and outright lies” concerning the situation in Syria, allowing, though, that the world has gotten used to it.
“Of course, not claiming influence on the editorial policy of these media, we would like to advise the authors of such anti-Russian fantasies … to think more not only about moral principles, but also about their professional viability,” the statement read.
Al Arabiya insists that the “highly-classified Syrian security documents” were obtained with the assistance of members of the Syria opposition.
“Two Turkish pilots were captured by the Syrian Air Force Intelligence after their jet was shot down in coordination with the Russian naval base in Tartus,” the channel quoted one of the documents as saying, referring to the Syrian city that has given the Russian Navy Mediterranean access since the late Soviet days.
Al Arabiya also stated that the two Turkish pilots had initially survived the crash.
“Based on information and guidance from the Russian leadership comes a need to eliminate the two Turkish pilots detained by the Special Operations Unit in a natural way, and their bodies need to be returned to the crash site in international waters,” the document, allegedly “sent directly from the presidential office of President Assad to brigadier Hassan Abdel Rahman,” said.
Syria’s anti-aircraft artillery shot down a Turkish fighter jet on July 22 because, according to a Syrian military spokesperson at the time, it violated Syria’s airspace. The incident deepened the crisis between the neighboring former allies. Following the incident, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said his government now regarded Syria as a “clear and immanent threat.”