One of two Russian pilots picked up by Syrian army: Russian envoy to France
The Russian ambassador to France says one of the two pilots of a Russian jet downed by Turkey inside Syria has been picked up by the Syrian army.
Turkish fighter jets shot down a Sukhoi Su-24M Fencer, which they accused of having violated Turkish airspace, on Tuesday. Russia says the plane did not violate Turkish airspace.
The two pilots of the Russian jet ejected out of the targeted jet as it was going down in flames. While one of the Russian pilots was killed by militants in Syria, no information was available about the second one – until now.
“(He) managed to escape and according to the latest information we have, he was picked up by the Syrian army and will be taken to the Russian airbase (in Syria),” Russian Ambassador to France Alexander Konstantinovich Orlov told Europe 1 radio on Wednesday.
The Russian Defense Ministry has officially reported the death of the other pilot, whom, Orlov said, “was wounded when he parachuted down and killed in a savage way on the ground” by militants.
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin has described the downing of the jet as a “stab in the back” by “the accomplices of terrorists.” Russia has suspended all military cooperation with NATO-member Turkey, and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has cancelled a planned visit to Ankara in the wake of the downing of the jet.
The downing of the jet by Turkey has fueled an already tense situation in the region, where various militant groups – some of them receiving support from Turkey – are wreaking havoc, particularly in Syria and Iraq.
Orlov, the Russian envoy, also denied Turkish government statements that the Russian plane had been warned repeatedly about an airspace violation.
Also on Tuesday, a statement by the Main Operational Directorate of the General Staff of the Russian Armed Forces said that two Mi-8 helicopters had been deployed to the region to conduct a search-and-rescue operation to find the pilots.
A member of the country’s Naval Infantry was killed after one of the choppers made an emergency landing after coming under militant fire.