Russia plane downed over Syria, pilot killed in clash

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A Russian pilot was killed Saturday after his warplane was downed over Syria’s northwest province of Idlib and he clashed with Islamists on the ground, Russia’s defence ministry and a monitor said.

“The pilot was killed as he fought Islamist rebels who had shot down his plane and were taking him captive,” said the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights chief Rami Abdel Rahman.

According to the British-based monitor, the Sukhoi 25 was shot down over the town of Maasran in Idlib and the pilot came down in a parachute.

He then clashed with rebels and was killed.

Abdel Rahman could not immediately clarify which hardline factions were involved, but said the jihadist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is active in the area.

Russia also confirmed the pilot’s death, but there was no immediate claim of responsibility from rebel factions in Syria.

“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,” the defence ministry said.

It said the area was “under the control of Al-Nusra Front fighters”, the former Syrian branch of Al-Qaeda that makes up the bulk of the HTC.

“The pilot was killed in fighting against terrorists,” it said, quoted by Russian agencies. (AFP)

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