IDLIB, Syria – The pilot of a Russian fighter jet downed Saturday by Syrian rebels in the northwestern province of Idlib was shot dead after parachuting to the ground, Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed.
“A Russian fighter jet Su-25 crashed when flying over the Idlib de-escalation zone. The pilot was able to report ejection from an area controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra militants,” Russian official news agency TASS reported, citing the ministry.
“The pilot was killed while fighting against terrorists,” the news agency added.
The aircraft was brought down with a portable anti-aircraft missile system, based on preliminary information, the Russian Defense Ministry said in confirming the incident.
Fighting pitting Syrian government troops and its allies (including Russia, which entered the civil war in 2015) against the militant group Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham is continuing and is concentrated in the Tell Touqan zone, located to the east of the northwestern city of Saraqib, Idlib province.
Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham – an outfit formerly known as al-Nusra Front or Jabhat al-Nusra that has undergone different re-brandings and says it is no longer affiliated with al-Qaeda – and other militant factions control nearly all of Idlib province.