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July 29, 2015: A senior defense official confirms a Turkish jet shot down a Russian drone near Syria. (AP Photo/Emrah Gurel)

A Turkish jet shot down a Russian drone that entered its airspace near the Syrian border Friday, a senior defense official confirms to Fox News.

A military statement said the aircraft was shot down after it ignored three warnings for it to leave.

All Russian jets have since returned to their base and all Russian drones "are functioning normally," Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the Russian defense ministry, told Russian news agencies Friday.

Turkey earlier this month complained about violation of its airspace by Russian warplanes. The intrusions also drew strong condemnation from its NATO allies.

The United States, Russia and the Syrian government all operate drones in the region.

In Moscow, a senior military officer strongly denied that the drone was Russian.

"I state with absolute responsibility that all our drones are either performing tasks or staying at the base," Col.-Gen. Andrei Kartapolov of the Russian military's General Staff said at a meeting with foreign military attaches in Moscow.

Since 2013, Turkey has shot down a Syrian military jet, a helicopter and an unmanned surveillance drone that strayed into Turkish airspace. The incidents occurred after it changed its rules of engagement following the downing of a Turkish fighter jet by Syria.

Turkey has also reported numerous incidents of harassment of its F-16 jets patrolling the Syrian border, by Syrian fighter planes or Syria-based surface-to-air missile systems locking radar on them.

Syrian troops backed by Iranian and Hezbollah fighters on the ground and Russian planes in the air pressed ahead with an assault against rebels in central Syria and launched another offensive in the northern province of Aleppo Friday, extending an ambitious campaign to recapture lost territory from armed fighters, activists and the government said.

The offensives on multiple fronts appear to be aimed at stretching rebel lines and keeping the insurgents off balance.

Russia began its air campaign Sept. 30, and Syrian troops and allied militiamen launched a ground offensive in central Syria week later. They have so far met stiff resistance from rebels using U.S.-made TOW anti-tank missiles that have impeded any swift breakthroughs, although they have seized a few villages from rebels in the past week.

The fighting is particularly intense in the central Homs province, where the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said around 60 people were killed in Russian airstrikes and fighting in Homs province. The Local Coordination Committees, an activist network that follows the war, put the number at 57.

The Russian military has rejected claims of civilian casualties, saying its planes haven't targeted populated areas.

Russia's President Vladimir Putin told a meeting of leaders of ex-Soviet nations in Kazakhstan that his military has achieved "impressive" results with the air raids in Syria. "Dozens of control facilities and ammunition depots, hundreds of terrorists and a large number of weapons have been destroyed," he said.

Putin reaffirmed that the Russian bombing blitz against the Islamic State group and other radicals in Syria will continue "for the period of the Syrian troops' offensive operations against terrorists," but wouldn't elaborate.

He said between 5,000 and 7,000 people from Russia and other ex-Soviet nations are fighting alongside Islamic State militants. "We can't allow them to use the experience they have just gained in Syria back home," he said.

Russian jets have flown 669 sorties since the start of the air campaign, including 394 this week, said Kartapolov, the Russian general.

In a bid to dispel claims by the U.S. and its allies that Russia's air campaign focused on moderate rebel groups instead of its declared focus on the IS, Kartapolov said the Russian Defense Ministry would send a detailed map showing positions of the IS and Syria's al-Qaida affiliate targeted by the Russian aircraft.

"Our aircraft have been used on targets outside of populated areas," he said.
Kartapolov also criticized the U.S.-led coalition for striking a power plant near Aleppo, leaving it without electricity and paralyzing its water supply and sewage system, something that he said could only increase the flow of refugees into Europe.

In a separate interview with the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, Kartapolov shrugged off the U.S. claim that four of the 26 cruise missiles launched at targets in Syria by Russian navy ships from the southern part of the Caspian Sea had crashed on Iranian territory.

"The Pentagon may say whatever it wants," he told the daily Komsomolskaya Pravda. "All our missiles reached their targets."

Kartapolov said the Russian jets haven't yet faced any surface-to-air missiles and warned that their use by rebels would signal a foreign involvement.

Following a similar statement by Putin, Kartapolov firmly ruled out Russian military involvement in any ground action in Syria. He said Russian air and land assets in Syria will be pulled together with its Soviet-era Tartus navy facility in one base.

Also on Friday, a U.S.-supported Kurdish group in Syria known as the YPG strongly rejected accusations by Amnesty International that it forcefully displaced thousands of Syrian civilians, mostly Arabs, and demolished villages in northern Syria.

Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.  

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