Syrian Rebels Down Russian Military Plane, Kill Pilot

Russian President Vladimir Putin takes part in a video link while launching the fourth power unit of the Rostov Nuclear Power Plant in Rostov-on-Don Russia

Terrorist group Tahrir al-Sham, linked to former terrorist Al Qaeda branch in Syria, claims responsibility for shooting down Russian combat jet SU-25 with shoulder-launched anti-aircraft Projectile.

Videos circulating online showed the alleged crash site of the fighter jet in Saraqeb, which the United Nations said has recently suffered "heavy shelling and aerial bombardment".

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.

Hospitals, markets and bakeries across Idlib province, believed to be the largest remaining rebel-held area in Syria, have been hit by government air raids.

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, or HTS, a powerful rebel alliance that publicly split from al-Qaeda previous year, said it had used a shoulder-fired weapon to down the Su-25 fighter jet as it flew low over the opposition-held town of Saraqeb.

Rebel fighters shot down the Russian warplane and then attempted to capture the pilot, who resisted. "According to radio intercepts, as a result of the strike, more than 30 militants of Jabhat al-Nusra were destroyed", a report by the Russian Defense Ministry added.

Turkish presidential spokesperson said Turkey will not tolerate the presence of a Syrian Kurdish militia "anywhere" along its southern border, hinting that Ankara might expand its military operation underway in the Syrian enclave of Afrin eastward.




The Russian Foreign Ministry has confirmed that the pilot was killed. One of the armed men shouts: "He is Russian".

It was not immediately clear which anti-regime group shot down the jet.

Forces supporting president Bashar al-Assad's regime, backed by Russian Federation, launched an offensive at the end of December to recapture the southeastern province of Idlib, the last enclave completely out of Damascus's control. Since then, Syrian government forces have captured wide parts of the country and in recent weeks have been marching in Idlib. The authenticity of the video could not be independently confirmed but it corresponded to events reported by the AP.

Earlier in the day, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights and the media arm of al-Qaeda-linked militants reported intense airstrikes on the rebel-held stronghold. The YPG controls much of the territory along the border and an uninterrupted strip from Manbij to the Iraqi border. He warned that Russian warplanes will not pass through Syrian airspace without "paying a price".

He was later killed when rebels tried to capture him.

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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