Syria war: Civilians killed in government air strikes across rebel-held areas

Ann Santiago
February 4, 2018

Rebel fighters shot down a Russian plane over Syria's north-west Idlib province on Saturday, the Telegraph reports.

Rebel fighters in Syria have shot down a Russian plane using a handheld anti-aircraft missile and killed its pilot when he open fire on them while trying to resist capture.

United Kingdom based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says the plane was downed on Saturday afternoon near the rebel-held town of Sreqeb.

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

The Sukhoi-25 is a close-support ground-attack aircraft.

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.

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.

Russian Federation has acted alongside its Syrian allies targeting rebels in the area.

The opposition's Aleppo Media Center said the plane was a Russian-made SU25 but did not say whether it was Russian.

Syrian government troops launched a major offensive around Idlib in late December, backed by Russian jets. "This plane was also carrying out raids there".

Syrian soldiers and Iranian-backed militiamen were now around 12 kilometres from Saraqeb, advancing towards the Damascus-Aleppo highway under cover of heavy Russian air strikes, two opposition sources said.

The SU-34 Fullback was first deployed to Syria in September 2015.

"The Russian center for reconciliation of warring sides in Syria alongside the Turkish side, responsible for the Idlib de-escalation zone, are taking steps to retrieve the Russian pilot's body", the ministry noted.

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