ANKARA, Turkey — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan on Saturday voiced regret over Turkey’s downing of a Russian warplane, saying his country was “truly saddened” by the incident and wished it hadn’t occurred.

It was the first expression of regret by the strongman leader since Tuesday’s incident in which Turkish F-16 jets shot down the Russian jet on grounds that it had violated Turkey’s airspace despite repeated warnings to change course. It was the first time in half a century that a NATO member shot down a Russian plane and drew a harsh response from Moscow.

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Turkish president says he wishes downing of Russian jet hadn’t happened