Lebanese civilian pilot says he heard Turkish military’s warnings to Russian pilot

Published 26.11.2015 00:00
Updated 26.11.2015 16:10

A civilian pilot flying a Middle East Airlines (MEA) flight from Beirut's Rafic Hariri International Airport to a Gulf country when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet on Tuesday confirmed the Turkish military's issuance of several warnings to the Russian pilot, Al Arabiya News said in a news report published on Wednesday.

The news channel broadcast said that the civilian pilot had told them he heard the warnings over his radio transmission and had provided them with an audio recording of the Turkish military's warnings. The authenticity of the tape was verified through a comparison with the original version released by the Air Force.

"I confirm the authenticity of their recording. I heard these exact same warnings over and over again and the part I recorded on my phone was actually toward the end when I felt the matter was getting serious," the Lebanese aviator reportedly told Al Arabiya News on the condition of anonymity.

The pilot reportedly said he had been hearing such warnings two or three times a week during the past month, but this time he "knew something was going to happen."

"What was different this time is that the Turkish officer was shouting and seemed tense, while the warnings were much calmer in previous times… this is why I knew something was going to happen," he said.

The Turkish military on Wednesday released what it said was an audio recording of a warning to a Russian fighter jet before it was shot down near the Syrian border.

A voice in the audio is heard saying in English: "Unknown air traffic position onto Hmeymim 020, redirect to 26 miles. This is the Turkish Air Force speaking on guard. You are approaching Turkish airspace. Change your heading south immediately."

There was however no response from the Russian side. The surviving crew member of the Russian fighter jet said earlier the plane received no warnings from the Turkish Air Forces and did not fly over Turkish air space, Russian news agencies reported.

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