Russian Federation says it killed 30 militants after warplane downed

Javier Stokes
February 4, 2018

The pilot of the Russia Su-25 died in a fight with militants after ejecting by parachute and opening fire on militants from an Al Qaeda-linked group when they tried to capture him alive, according to Syrian monitors and a militant.

Forces loyal to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad have continued occasional use of chemical weapons in smaller amounts since a deadly attack last April that drew a USA missile strike on a Syrian air base, U.S. officials told reporters.

Syrians in rebel-held areas say they can distinguish between Russian warplanes and those of the Syrian air force, because the Russian planes fly at higher altitude.

Syria is in the process of carrying out an offensive against Islamist rebels in Idlib Province, where most of such groups are operating.

The authenticity of the video could not be independently confirmed. The militant refused to be identified by his real name because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Syrian government warplanes killed seven civilians and injured dozens of internally displaced people in Aleppo as air strikes and shelling intensified across rebel-held areas in Syria.

The observatory earlier reported more than 35 airstrikes on Saraqeb since late Friday and said that many residents were fleeing the area.

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The downing of the aircraft is a rare instance of a Russian jet being shot down by rebels.

A United Nations body in October 2017 held the government responsible for a Sarin gas attack on a rebel-held town that killed more than 87 people.

Meanwhile, fighting raged on Saturday between Turkish troops and allied Syrian opposition fighters, and a Syrian Kurdish militia in the northern Syrian enclave of Afrin.

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.

A total of eight Turkish soldiers and at least 24 allied Syrian opposition fighters have died so far in Ankara's offensive, which started on January 20.

Turkey shares a 911-kilometer border with Syria.

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