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Russia Confirms Warplane Downed Over Syria, Pilot Dead

The Russian Defense Ministry has confirmed that an Su-25 close-support military aircraft was shot down over Syria on February 3 and the pilot was killed.

A ministry statement said the pilot ejected from the aircraft but was killed while resisting capture by rebels fighting against the Syrian government.

The statement said preliminary evidence indicates the plane was shot down by a shoulder-launched antiaircraft missile.

The London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said earlier that rebel forces had shot down an Su-25 in Idlib Province in northwestern Syria.

It was not clear which rebel group was involved, but the jihadist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) is the most active force in the area. The Russian statement said the area was controlled by Jabhat al-Nusra militants.

Russian military correspondent Aleksandr Kots posted on social media a video purportedly showing rebel fighters picking over the burning wreckage of an Su-25.

The Russia-based, independent Conflict Intelligence Team posted photographs they say showed the dead body of the pilot and a paper recommending a man named Major Roman Fillipov for a state award that was allegedly filled out by Russian air group commander Lieutenant Colonel Sergei Aksyonov.

Russia has been conducting military operations in support of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad since September 2015.

The Su-25 is a single-seat, twin-engine jet designed to provide close air support for troops on the ground.

With reporting by AFP, AP, and Reuters