The Latest: UK to consider Russian request for plane experts

AP News
|
Posted: Dec 09, 2015 10:41 AM
The Latest: UK to consider Russian request for plane experts

HOMS, Syria (AP) — The latest developments on the war in Syria. All times local.

5:40 p.m.

Britain says it will consider Russia's request for aviation experts to examine data from the black box of a Russian warplane downed over the Turkish-Syria border.

Russian President Vladimir Putin made the request during a phone call Wednesday with Prime Minister David Cameron.

The Su-24 on a bombing mission in Syria was shot down by Turkey on Nov. 24. The pilot and another Russian serviceman were killed in the incident.

Russian officials reject Turkey's claim that its plane violated Turkish airspace.

Cameron's office said the two leaders had "agreed that it was important to wait for the investigation to establish what had happened and the prime minister said he would consider President Putin's request to send British experts to assist the investigation."

British warplanes began bombing Islamic State group targets in Syria last week, and Downing St. said Cameron and Putin "agreed that the U.K. and Russia should work together" to tackle the militant group and push a peace process for Syria.

___

5:35 p.m.

Turkey's prime minister has accused Russia of attempting "ethnic cleansing" through its air campaign in northern Syria.

Ahmet Davutoglu told a group of foreign reporters in Istanbul on Wednesday that Russia's operations have targeted Turkmen and Sunni communities around the Latakia region.

He said Russia's action could force "many more millions" of people to flee.

Davutoglu said: "Russia is trying to make ethnic cleansing in northern Latakia."

Davutoglu also renewed a call for the creation of a safe zone in Syria "so that new waves (of refugees) will not come."

Turkish-Russian tensions have escalated since Turkey downed a Russian warplane near the Syrian border last month.

Turkey says the fighter jet violated its airspace ignoring repeated warnings. Russia denies the claim.

___

4:20 p.m.

Russia has rejected a U.S. claim that its warplanes have struck a Syrian military camp and pointed the finger at the U.S.-led coalition.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said that Russian planes weren't near the Syrian army camp in the eastern city of Deir el-Zour when it was struck Sunday night. The Syrian government said four soldiers were killed and 12 others wounded and blamed aircraft from the U.S.-led coalition.

A U.S. official has denied the claim, saying the camp was hit by a Russian airstrike.

Konashenkov said that four warplanes from two unidentified members of the U.S.-led coalition were flying over Deir el-Zour at the time.

___

4:05 p.m.

The Russian military says its base in Syria is enough for its air campaign and it doesn't need any extra ones.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Wednesday that Russian aircraft from the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia could reach any target in Syria within 40 minutes, which means there is no need to have any additional air bases.

Syrian activists said last week that Russian troops were expanding the Shaayrat air base in central Syria, about 40 kilometers (25 miles) southeast of the city of Homs, adding fortifications and developing its runways in a sign they intend to use it as their second air base in the country.

Russia has carried out its air campaign in Syria since Sept. 30.

___

3:06 p.m.

Syria's state-run news agency says four people have been killed and 21 were wounded by rebel mortar shelling of residential areas in the city of Aleppo.

The city in northern Syria has been one of the central theaters of the country's five-year-long civil war. Government forces supported by allied militias are mired in a devastating stalemate with an array of opposition factions, which include Islamic groups.

Indiscriminate mortar and bombing campaigns have killed thousands of civilians and driven hundreds of thousands more out.

___

2:53 p.m.

In Syria, hundreds of civilians and rebels have completed their pullout from the last opposition-held neighborhood in the central city of Homs.

Homs governor Talal Barazzi tells The Associated Press that 272 gunmen and 447 civilians left the district of Waer on Wednesday, heading to opposition-held areas further north in the country.

The United Nations presided over implementation of the deal, which allowed those leaving Waer safe passage to the north.

A few thousand rebels had been holed up in Waer, which Syrian government forces had blockaded for nearly three years, only sporadically allowing in food.

Once the evacuation of the rebels is completed, the city of Homs will fully return to government control.

___

1:25 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has asked Britain to send aviation experts to examine data from the black box belonging to the Russian warplane downed over the Turkish-Syria border last month.

The Su-24 on a bombing mission in Syria was shot down by Turkey on Nov. 24. Two Russian servicemen were killed.

The Kremlin said on its website Wednesday that Putin talked by phone with British Prime Minister David Cameron and invited the British experts.

Russian officials have vigorously rejected Turkey's claim that its plane violated Turkish airspace and said data from the black box should prove them right.

___

12:45 p.m.

Russian President Vladimir Putin says he would like international experts to examine data from the black box belonging to the Russian warplane downed over the Turkish-Syria border last month.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday brought to the Kremlin the black box from the Russian Su-24 on a bombing mission in Syria which Turkey shot down on Nov. 24 for allegedly violating its airspace. Two Russian servicemen were killed. Putin asked Shoigu not to open the box until Russia invites international experts to examine them.

Russian officials have vigorously rejected Turkey's claim that its plane violated Turkish airspace and said data from the black box should prove them right.

The downing of the warplane has brought Russia's previously warm ties with Turkey to a post-Cold War low, with Russia imposing economic sanctions on Turkey.

___

12:30 p.m.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev says Russia's air force operation in Syria is not a burden on the country's budget.

The Russian economy, which is forecast to decline 4 percent this year, is going through a difficult time because of Western economic sanctions coupled with low oil prices. Critics have accused the Kremlin of spending taxpayer money on the bombing operation against Islamic State militants in Syria while the budget is scheduled to run a 3 percent deficit next year.

Speaking Wednesday at a televised press conference in Moscow, Medvedev said by launching the air force operation on Sept. 30, the defense ministry did not go over its planned budget. He said the Russian military has not asked the government for further funds for the campaign.