Prior to the downing of the Russian Su-24 near the Syrian border, Ankara summoned the Russian ambassador and complained about attacks on the Turkmens. Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said the airstrikes “could lead to serious consequences.”
On Tuesday Russia suffered the serious consequence when Turkish F16s shot down its fighter-bomber and members of a Turkmen militia killed at least one of the pilots after he parachuted from the aircraft near the Syrian village of Yamadi.
Turkish President Erdoğan complained after the incident that Russia has no business conducting airstrikes in the Bayırbucak region of Latakia Governorate because there are no Daesh or Islamic State terrorists in the area.
“Some say there is Daesh in that area. There are no Daesh terrorists in Bayırbucak region of Latakia, Daesh is in Jarablous” Erdoğan said on Wednesday at a meeting of the Standing Committee for Economic and Commercial Cooperation of the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation.
Erdoğan’s remarks came after the Syrian Army launched attacks against Kızıldağ, a strategic part of the Turkmen town of Bayirbucak. On Tuesday Turkmen fighters wrested control of the area, known as Jabal al-Ahmar in Arabic, away from the Syrian government. The Syrians had captured Kızıldağ with the help of Russian airstrikes the previous day. On Tuesday the Russian Su-24 was shot down in the area by the Turks.
Russia has conducted airstrikes against all groups in Syria fighting to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad in Damascus, including the Syrian Turkmen Brigades situated around Latakia, Aleppo, Homs, al-Raqqah, Damascus, Idlib, Hama and Tartus.
The Turkmens in Syria were among the first to attack the Syrian government following the so-called Arab Spring engineered by the United States and its NGOs.
In March 2015 it was reported the Turkish Special Forces Command, a highly trained elite special operations unit of the Turkish Armed Forces, has trained the Turkmens in Syria and Iraq. Turkish officials confirmed the training is taking place in Syria at secret camps.
The Turkish government considers the areas of Syria where the Turkmens live to be its eastern Ukraine, that is to say part of Turkey.
The Turkmen migrated to the area in the 11th century during the reign of the Turkic Seljuk dynasty before the establishment of the Ottoman Empire.
The Ottomans set up the millet system consisting of ethno-religious minorities. This ensured peaceful coexistence until the French Mandate for Syria and the Lebanon after the First World War and the fall of the Ottoman Empire. Unrest occurred after the secret Sykes–Picot Agreement was signed between Britain and France.