Turkey to Return Body of Russian Pilot to Moscow

ISTANBUL — Turkey has received the body of the Russian pilot killed in the downing of a fighter jet in Syria and will return it to Russia, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Sunday.

Orthodox priests in the southeastern Turkish city of Hatay have been caring for the remains in accordance with religious practices, the Anadolu news agency quoted Davutoglu as saying.

Relations between Russia and Turkey have crumbled since Tuesday, when a Turkish F-16 shot down a co-piloted Russian Su-24 bomber in the airspace over the Turkish-Syrian border.

One of the Russian pilots was killed by Syrian rebels who opened fire on him as he parachuted to the ground. The second pilot was rescued by Russian and Syria government forces.

Moscow says the Su-24 bomber never left Syrian territory, where Russian forces have been flying an air campaign to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad against rebel forces and Islamist extremists since September.

NATO-member Turkey says the Russian warplane violated its airspace and has previously warned Russia against airspace incursions.