A Russian pilot was shot dead from the ground after Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet in Syria and another soldier died during the rescue operation, Russia's military general staff said on Tuesday.
Russian news agencies reported the statement Tuesday by general staff spokesman Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, who also said that rebels in Syria fired on a Russian helicopter that was searching for the two pilots of the Su-24.
He said that shooting killed one crew member on the Mi-8 helicopter and forced it to land in neutral territory.
A spokesman for the general staff, Lt. Gen. Sergei Rudskoi, was quoted by Russian news agencies as saying Tuesday that the Mi-8 chopper was one of two taking part in the search operation. The rest of its crew were evacuated and taken back to the air base used by Russia in Syria.
The Russian Defense Ministry has suspended military contact with Turkey over the incident and a Russian warship will be deployed to waters off Syria's western Latakia province, Russian news agencies reported.
Earlier in the day, Turkish media sources reported that two pilots were alive and Ankara is in contact with Syrian opposition for the release of the pilots.