Moscow’s envoy claims Russian pilot is with Assad forces

Moscow’s envoy to France claims ejected Russian pilot has been picked up by forces loyal to Bashar Assad

Photo by: AP
Photo by: AP

In this photo made from video made available by Russian Defense Ministry official website on Friday, Nov. 20, 2015, Russian air force Su-30 fighter jets take off from the Hemeimeem air base in Syria.

One of the two Russian pilots who ejected themselves from the jet downed by Turkey on the Syrian frontier on Tuesday was reported to have been picked up by forces loyal to Syrian regime leader Bashar Assad, Russia's ambassador to France, Alexandre Orlov, said on Wednesday.

On the other hand, the other pilot was shot dead as he was approaching the ground, Orlov continued.  

"The other managed to escape and, according to the latest information, has been picked up by the Syrian army and should be going back to the Russian Air Force base," ambassador Orlov said in a statement.

The Turkish military released a statement explaining that the Russian Sukhoi SU-24 was shot down by Turkish F-16 fighter jets according to Turkey’s standard rules of engagement, and added that the Russian plane was repeatedly warned about its continuous violations of Turkish airspace before it was fired upon.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu stated that following the downing of the Russian warplane the country is sending its most hi-tech air defence system to its air base in Syria to help bolster its firepower over the war-torn country.

"The S-400 anti-aircraft missile system will be deployed to the Hmeimim air base," Shoigu was quoted as saying.

Russian President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday supported a recommendation from the Russian Foreign Ministry not to visit Turkey.

"After such tragic events like the destruction of our plane and the death of our pilot, this is a necessary measure," Putin said on a Russian television.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel stated on Wednesday in response to the current events regarding the Syrian crisis that the downing of a Russian warplane by Turkey has muddled the course of finding a political solution in Syria and all must be done to avert further escalation.

"The situation has been aggravated by the shooting down of a Russian plane by Turkey," Merkel said.

"We need to do everything to avoid an escalation," she continued.

Merkel added stating that “every country has the right to defend its territory, however, we know how tense the situation is in Syria and in the surrounding area.”

Merkel spoke on Tuesday with the Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, and urged him to do everything possible to de-escalate the situation.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stated in response to Merkel’s comments that Turkey did not want any escalation with Russia over its downing of a Russian plane on the Syrian frontier but promised to always defend the Turkish borders.

"We have no intention to escalate this incident. We are just defending our security and the rights of our brothers," Erdogan said.

"Turkey has never favoured tensions and crisis, it has and always will favour peace and dialogue."

However, "no one should expect us to remain silent when our border security and our sovereignty are being violated," he continued.

Erdogan argued that the incident proved "what kind of consequences careless steps could have."

He then showed that two Turkish citizens were in fact, wounded by fragments of the Russian plane that fell on the Turkish side of the border, dismissing Russian claims that the fighter jet had been on a mission to target DAESH terrorists in northern Syria, arguing that the region was populated by Syria's Turkmen minority.

"No one should ever fool themselves: There are no DAESH elements in the Bayirbucak region where Turkmen live," said Erdogan.

TRTWorld and agencies