Russian Defence Ministry on Tuesday stated that a marine who was carrying out a search and rescue operation for the pilots who ejected themselves from the Russian warplane downed by Turkey after several warnings, was killed as his helicopter was fired upon by Syrian opposition fighters soon after it made an emergency landing in northern Syria.
“In the course of the operation, one of the helicopters sustained gunfire and completed an emergency landing in neutral territory. One marine was killed,” said Russian Military General Staff spokesman Lieutenant General Sergei Rudskoi.
The other crew members are reported to have evacuated the area and taken to the Hmeymim Airbase in Syria's western Latakia province.
The events unfolded on Tuesday as a Russian jet reported to have entered Turkish airspace over the southern border province of Hatay for a total of 17 seconds, despite being warned 10 times in five minutes before being downed.
Although Russia denied that the warcraft entered Turkey, the US Operation Inherent Resolve spokesman Army Colonel Steve Warren confirmed that 10 warnings were issued by Turkey before the Russian jet was downed.
Meanwhile, Russian ambassador to France, Alexandre Orlov speaking to Europe 1 radio on Wednesday, stated that one of the two Russian pilots of the downed Russian SU-24 warplane has been found by the Syrian army and are now being taken to the Russian Air Force base.
The fate of the other pilot remains unclear although there have been several reports and a footage showing that he had been killed.