The Russian Ministry of Defense stated that the country’s air forces conducted a high-precision group strike in the area controlled by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham militants in Idlib, from where a missile that downed Russian Su-25 aircraft was launched.
“A group strike using precision weapons has been conducted in the area controlled by the Jabhat al-Nusra [Jabhat Fatah al-Sham] terrorist group in Idlib province, from where the missile was launched against the [downed] Russian Su-25 airplane. According to radio intercepts, as a result of the strike, more than 30 militants of Jabhat al-Nusra were destroyed,” the report by the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The strike followed the downing of a Russian Su-25 aircraft in the area.
“The plane was flying over the Idlib de-escalation zone,” the military stated.
The Defense Ministry revealed that according to preliminary information as to the possible cause of the downing, the plane may have been shot down by a man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD).
The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the pilot managed to eject from the aircraft and survive, but was killed during a subsequent battle with terrorists.
“The pilot reported on a bailout in an area controlled by rebels Jabhat Fatah al-Sham [previously known as al-Nusra Front]. When conducting a fight with terrorists, the pilot died,” the Defense Ministry said.
According to the ministry, Russia and Turkey, peace guarantors in Syria’s Idlib de-escalation zone, are undertaking all possible efforts to return the body of the killed pilot.
During the two-year-long military operation in Syria, Russia has lost four airplanes and four helicopters. According to Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Borisov, modernized Su-25SM ground attack aircraft are being used in Syria.
The Su-25 attack aircraft is designed to destroy small-size mobile and fixed ground objects, as well as low-speed air targets.
The incident took place on the territory controlled by the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham terror group amid an ongoing military operation against them conducted by Syrian forces.
Among various terror groups operating in the area, there is also Hay’at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an umbrella terrorist group spearheaded this year by the former Al-Nusra Front. While some countries, such as the United States, have flagged HTS as a terrorist group, Russian officials continue to refer to the Salafist jihadist terrorist organization by its former Al-Nusra moniker. Al-Nusra was the official Syrian branch of al-Qaeda until 2016, when it ostensibly split from the world’s most well-known terrorist network.