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domingo, 4 de febrero de 2018

Russian military jet shot down in Syria – pilot dead

A Russian fighter jet pilot was shot down over hostile al-Qaida territory in Syria on Saturday. He was then killed by militants after ejecting from the rapidly burning aircraft.

Neutral observers and one of the Syrian rebels involved in the fighting confirmed that the piilot was killed while resisting capture and firing upon enemies closing in on his position.

Sukhoi down!

The Russian Defense Ministry indicated that the Sukhoi-25 close-support ground-attack aircraft was struck by a portable ground-to-air missile in the embattled northwestern Idlib province of Syria. The Islamist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a group formerly linked to al-Qaida, claimed responsibility for shooting down the aircraft.

Russian officials confirmed the loss of the fixed-wing aircraft, in addition to the single casualty.

“The pilot had enough time to report that he had ejected in an area controlled by the militants,” the Russian defense ministry reported“During a battle with terrorists, the pilot was killed.”

The jihadist attack comes after the Syrian government, working in concert with Russian air power, began a major offensive in December aimed at uprooting entrenched rebel groups in Idlib. Monitoring groups have reported dozens of airstrikes in the area in the past 24 hours.

Since late Friday, The Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights counted at least 35 airstrikes near the town of Saraqeb, a rebel-held area where the plane’s wreckage was discovered, and the al-Qaida-linked Ibaa News Agency reported heavy bombardment from Syrian warplanes and helicopter gunships on the villages of Saraqeb and Tel Mardeekh.

Jihadist victory

These joint operations aimed at reclaiming rebel-held territory come after nearly three years of Russian military and logistical support for the Syrian dictatorship of Bashar Al-Assad. The allied nations have captured large swaths of enemy territory in recent months before turning their attention to the al-Qaida haven in Idlib.

Several videos circulating on social media captured the downing of the Su-25 and the bloody aftermath. One of these show a lifeless and bloodied corpse with bearded gunmen standing nearby.

“He is Russian,” claimed one of the militants.

Another video shows the Su-25 catch fire and spiral to the earth after being struck with a projectile. The pilot ejected and can be seen slowly descending into a nearby field.

A third video shows the aircraft wreckage. In it, red stars are clearly visible from the ruined wing tips, verifying their Russian origin.

“Paying a price”

Militant commander Mahmoud al-Turkmani told Ibaa News that the shoulder-fire anti-aircraft missiles were delivered to the province in recent weeks when the shelling began. He cautioned that Russian warplanes operating in the region would not escape without “paying a price.”

Russia has responded by firing a salvo of cruise missiles from nearby navy vessels anchored in the Mediterranean.

The Russian military would not provide details of the retaliatory strike, only admitting that “a series of high-precision weapons strikes has been delivered on the area.”

The Russian defense ministry claims to be making every effort to retrieve the remains of their missing pilot.