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Russian fighter jet shot down by rebels in Syria

Human rights monitors say the pilot of the plane was killed.

Russia has been  directly involved in the Syrian conflict since 2015.
Russia has been directly involved in the Syrian conflict since 2015.
Image: Lt. Jonathan Pfaff/PA Images

A RUSSIAN PILOT has been killed in clashes with hardline rebels after they downed his warplane over Syria’s northwest province of Idlib, 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.

Abdel Rahman could not immediately confirm which hardline factions were involved but said the Sukhoi 25 was downed in an area where the jihadist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is active.

Syrian troops launched a fierce offensive on Idlib in late December, with backing by Russian warplanes.

“There have been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the past 24 hours. This plane was also carrying out raids there,” said Abdel Rahman.

Opposition factions have shot Syrian regime planes in the past, but downing Russian warplanes is much rarer.

In August 2016, a Russian military helicopter was shot down over Syria and all five people on board were killed.

Moscow began conducting air strikes in Syria in September 2015.

Two months later, Turkey shot down a Russian warplane, leading to the worst crisis in ties between the two countries since the end of the Cold War.

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