Russian pilot killed after plane shot down by Syrian rebels

UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland

UN humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland

The SU-25 came down on Saturday in an area of Syria's northern Idlib province that has seen heavy air strikes and fighting on the ground between government forces backed by Russian Federation and Iran, and rebels who oppose President Bashar al-Assad. It is the first time a Russian fighter has been shot down by Syrian rebels attempting to overthrow the government of Bashar al-Assad in Syria.

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 attack took place when the jet was flying over the Idlib de-escalation zone on Saturday.

The witness said that a pilot parachuted.

Russia's defence ministry said the pilot had survived the crash but was killed by "terrorists" on the ground.

Video posted on social media appeared to show the plane being hit, while other video showed burning wreckage on the ground, with a red star on a wing.

'There have been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the past 24 hours. "This plane was also carrying out raids there".

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Russian air force losses have been rare since it began its Syria campaign in September 2015.

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

The scenario where a US-backed, US-supplied jihadist group in Syria uses U.S. weapons to shoot down a Russian plane and then murders the pilot on the ground should be seen as a near-nightmare escalation, drawing the USA and Russia terrifyingly closer to direct conflict.

In a statement quoted by state news agency SANA, a source in Syria's foreign ministry said the talks in Sochi were "the cornerstone of the political process and solid base upon which dialogue will be launched from now on".

The U.N. says more than 270,000 people have been displaced in Idlib because of the government onslaught since December 15.

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