Backed Free Syrian Army Group Shoots Down Russian Jet, Kills Pilot

Backed Free Syrian Army Group Shoots Down Russian Jet, Kills Pilot

The Russian Ministry of Defense has released footage of a precision strike targeting terrorists in Idlib, north-west Syria, in retaliation for the earlier downing of an Su-25 jet and the killing of its pilot.

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

Syrian rebels say they brought down a Russian warplane in an area of northern Syria's Idlib province that has seen heavy air strikes, and two rebel sources say they had captured the pilot who was badly injured. The province is also a base for al-Qaida's branch in Syria and other Islamic groups.

A video circulating on social media shows a lifeless body of a man, his face stained with blood, as bearded gunmen stand around him. One of the armed men shouts: 'He is Russian'.

A Syrian militant in the area told The Associated Press that the Russian pilot was shot and killed when he resisted capture.

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The authenticity of the video could not be independently confirmed.

The defense ministry said the pilot was able to eject from the aircraft before it crashed, according to state-run news agency TASS, but died while fighting al-Nusra fighters.

Syrian troops launched a fierce offensive on Idlib in late December, with backing by Russian warplanes.

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. The zones are not recognized by the rebels, and Israel is vehemently opposed to such a zone being established in al-Quneitra Province in southern Syria, on Israel's Golan Heights border. The UN said some 100,000 civilians have been displaced. One of the soldiers was killed when a Turkish tank was hit in Afrin.

The Idlib Media Center, an anti-government activist group, posted images that purportedly show the plane's wreckage. The YPG controls much of the territory along the border and an uninterrupted strip from Manbij to the Iraqi border.

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