Daring Rescue Operation Frees Downed Russian Fighter Pilot From Turkish Captors
Tensions are unbelievably high in the Middle East right now and, for once, the United States isn't one of the major players in the conflict.
Early this week, Turkish forces shot down a Russian fighter plane that had crossed into Turkish airspace. According to Turkey, the fighter had refused to turn around--even after being given repeated warnings--and that the Turkish forces had no choice but to shoot the plane down.
Russia, of course, is extremely angry about the loss of the plane and has threatened "significant consequences" towards Turkey. Vladimir Putin, Russia's president, also accused Turkey of being a supporter of ISIS and of supporting the radical jihadists who are wreaking havoc in the area.
After the Russian plane was shot down, Russian officials confirmed that one of the two pilots was killed by what he termed "jihadists." Later, a joint force of Syrian and Russian forces entered enemy territory and rescued the second pilot who is reported as safe and well.
The rescue operation took approximately 12 hours and also was successful because the Russian pilot was able to escape from the terrorists who held him and make his way towards his rescuers.
Turkey has responded to the situation by claiming that it doesn't want to escalate tensions anymore by creating a larger issue out of the plane incident than it is. For Russian's part, however, because one of the two pilots was killed it becomes even more about honor and standing up for the lives of its citizens.
One can only hope that, should the United States be placed in a similar position, that we would react with similar strength and resolve, as Russia has. The larger take-away from the incident, however, is that Russia's increasingly penetrating presence in the Middle East is making forces on all sides nervous.
It remains, as always, up to the United States to make sure things go smoothly and the missions are successful.