Turkey shot down a Russian bomber which they say was in their air space this morning. We could be 30 seconds from the brink of World War Three as international tensions over powder keg Syria threaten to ignite.
Turkey admitted to having shot down a Russian fighter jet this morning, claiming it had entered its airspace.
Syrian airspace is complicated
And as the airspace over Syria becomes increasingly congested, military commanders fear a clash of warplanes, helicopters, drones, missiles and artillery is increasingly likely – and could have global ramifications.
One military expert warned: “Rationalizing such a complex airspace is not possible – like getting your mind round a Rubik’s Cube that moves around at Mach 1.5, then adding a dozen more.
“Given the amount of military traffic in the air there is a real worry a plane will be shot down in a catastrophic misunderstanding of intent. It means we could be seconds from a sudden escalation taking us to the very brink of war.”
Some US planes over Syria have had to abandon targets and even bank sharply to avoid Russian jets.
In one terrifying close call Lt Gen Charles Brown, commander of the American air campaign in Syria, said US and Russian planes came within just 20 miles of each other – which, at the speeds they travel, is as little as 30 seconds from a disastrous impact.
With the Chinese aircraft carrier Lianoning stationed off the coast of Syria, positioned to allow J-15 warplanes to carry out airstrikes, the fear of split-second mistakes has spiralled even further.
Dr Andrew Foxall said: “Russia has a very different objective to the NATO coalition and the western drive for liberal democracy and regime change in Syria.
“The Kremlin’s primary interest is maintaining a pro-Russian regime in Syria.”
The intervention of China has further complicated matters, with fears it could use airstrikes on IS as a cover to launch attacks on Syrian rebels.
Iraq is likely to follow Syria’s lead in asking Russia to launch airstrikes against IS, a result of months of covert plotting by Putin’s spies.
With Iran already allowing Russia to fly through its airspace, two powerful rival alliances have emerged in the Middle East, recalling the build up to the First World War.
Turkey – and the UK – are members of NATO
As tensions escalate on Syria’s western border, the incident between Russian and Turkish aircraft has raised the temperature.
Turkey has reacted with alarm as Russian aircraft have begun making probes into its airspace.
NATO warned Russia it will defend members and allies if pushed.
And Britain is sending 100 troops to Poland, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia to guard against further aggression by Russia following its intervention in Ukraine and a steady increase in the number of Russian incursions into British skies.