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Russian pilot 'killed in fighting' after plane downed in Syria

© Alexander Kots, Komsomolskaya Pravda, AFP (archives) | A Russian Sukhoi jet flies out of Hmeimim air base in Syria in October 2015.

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2018-02-03

A Russian pilot was killed in Syria on Saturday after parachuting into rebel-held territory when his plane was shot down, the Defence Ministry said.

"A Russian Su-25 aircraft crashed during a flight over the Idlib de-escalation zone. 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.

"The pilot was killed in fighting against terrorists."

It added that "according to preliminary reports, the plane was shot down by a portable anti-aircraft missile system."

"It is an area where al-Nusra is located" - Washington Post Moscow correspondent Andrew Roth

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, a jihadist outfit dominated by Al-Qaeda's former Syrian affiliate, has claimed responsibility for shooting down the plane.

Forces supporting president Bashar al-Assad's regime, backed by Russia, launched an offensive at the end of December to recapture the southeastern province of Idlib, the last enclave completely out of Damascus's control.

Opposition groups have in the past shot down Syrian planes, but rarely those of the Russian army.

In August 2016, five Russian soldiers were killed after their helicopter was shot down by rebel groups in Idlib.

In November 2015, Turkey shot down a Russian military aircraft, which caused a diplomatic crisis between Moscow and Ankara.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP)

Date created : 2018-02-03

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