Russian fighter jet shot down in Syria's Idlib province
February 3, 2018 3:55 pm
A Russian Sukhoi-25 fighter jet has been shot down in a rebel-held area in Syria’s north-western province of Idlib.
The Russian defence ministry said the pilot had ejected into an area believed to be controlled by the al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance.
Although he survived the crash he was killed in a ground fight, Moscow said.
The Syrian government, Russia’s ally, launched a major offensive in December against rebel groups in Idlib.
The Sukhoi-25, a close-support ground-attack aircraft, was operating over the town of Maasran in Idlib.
There had been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the previous 24 hours, monitoring groups said.
Video posted on social media showed the jet being hit and quickly catching fire, before spiralling to the ground.
Video from the ground showed the wreckage with red stars on the wings.
Russia’s defence ministry said: “The pilot had enough time to report that he had ejected in an area controlled by the militants of Jabhat al-Nusra.
“During a battle with terrorists, the pilot was killed.”
Jabhat al-Nusra was rebranded as Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which merged in 2017 with other groups as the Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance.
Other video on social media showed a bloodied body in a uniform.
The defence ministry said it was making all possible efforts to retrieve the body.
However, social media posts also reported a salvo of cruise missiles had been fired into Idlib province from Russian navy vessels in the Mediterranean.
The Russian defence ministry confirmed only that “a series of high-precision weapons strikes has been delivered on the area”.