Russian pilot killed after plane shot down by Syrian rebels

04 February, 2018, 02:13 | Author: Diane Mills
  • UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland

In Moscow, the TASS news agency, quoting Russia's defence ministry, said a Russian Su-25 warplane was brought down in Syria and the pilot died after ejecting by parachute. Preliminary data showed the Su-25 plane was downed by a man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD), the ministry said in a statement on Saturday. The pilot was able to report ejection from an area controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra militants. "The pilot had enough time to announce he had ejected into the zone, under the control of al-Nusra Front fighters", the the ministry said, quoted by Russian press agencies.

A video circulating on social media shows a lifeless body of a man, his face stained with blood, as bearded gunmen stand around him.

Russia's defence ministry said the pilot had survived the crash but was killed by "terrorists" on the ground.

It happened in a rebel-held area near Idlib in the north of the country.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime recently resumed airstrikes on rebel-held areas such as Idlib province, prompting tens of thousands of civilians to flee their homes, according to United Nations officials. The province is also a base for al-Qaida's branch in Syria and other Islamic groups.

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'There have been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the past 24 hours.

Moscow began conducting air strikes in Syria in September 2015.

The Russian plane was shot down over the town of Khan al-Subl near the city of Saraqeb, close to a major highway where the Syrian army and Iranian-backed militias are trying to advance, a rebel source said. Two months later, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane.

The U.N. says more than 270,000 people have been displaced in Idlib because of the government onslaught since December 15. A third rebel source said he was killed.

The Turkish operation aims to clear Afrin of the USA -backed Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People's Protection Units or YPG, which Turkey considers to be a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdish insurgency within its borders.

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