Russian Pilot Rescued by Syrian Army 11/25 06:22
DAMASCUS, Syria (AP) -- A Russian military pilot whose plane was shot down
by Turkey and crashed in Syria arrived on Wednesday at an air base in Latakia
province after being rescued by a Syrian army commando unit, Syrian and Russian
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu told Russian news agencies that the
man was rescued in a 12-hour operation which ended in the early hours on
Wednesday and is now "safe and sound" at Russia's air base in the
government-controlled area in Syria.
Turkey shot down the Russian warplane on Tuesday, saying it ignored repeated
warnings after crossing into its airspace from Syria. One of the two pilots was
killed and captured by Syrian rebels who said they were searching for the
other. The incident inflamed tensions between Turkey and Russia, and Russian
President Vladimir Putin warned of "significant consequences."
A statement from the Syrian armed forces on Wednesday said a special unit
carried out overnight a "qualitative" operation with the Russian forces and
rescued one of the two pilots.
Russian President Vladimir Putin also confirmed a second pilot has been
In a statement carried by Syria's official news agency SANA, the army said
the Syrian and Russian forces penetrated into the areas where "terrorists" are
entrenched at a depth of 4.5 kilometers and rescued the pilot. It said he is in
Russia's ambassador to France also said that the second pilot is in the
hands of the Syrian army. Ambassador Alexander Orlov said on Europe-1 radio
that one of the pilots was wounded, then killed on the ground by "jihadists."
He said the other "managed to escape and be rescued by the Syrian army." He
Orlov accused Turkey of being an "accomplice" of Islamic State extremists
and playing an ambiguous role in Syria's civil war.
However he played down concerns of escalation of violence among the
international players involved in Syria.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Wednesday that his country does
not wish to escalate tensions with Russia over the downing of the plane.
Speaking at an Organisation of Islamic Cooperation economy meeting in
Istanbul, Erdogan said that Turkey favors "peace, dialogue and diplomacy."
Erdogan however defended his country's move to shoot down the plane saying:
"''no one should expect Turkey to stay silent to border violations or the
violation of its rights."
Turkey shot down a Russian warplane on Tuesday that it said ignored repeated
warnings and crossed into its airspace from Syria.