Although the Su-25 pilot survived the crash he was killed in a ground fight, Moscow said
A Russian Sukhoi Su-25 (NATO reporting name: Frogfoot) attack aircraft has been shot down in a rebel-held area in Syria’s north-western province of Idlib.
The jihadist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance claimed it had shot down the Frogfoot using a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile (SAM).
According Russian defence ministry the pilot ejected into an area believed to be controlled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham.
Although he survived the crash he was killed in a ground fight, Moscow said.
The Syrian government, backed by Russian air power, launched a major offensive in December against rebel groups in Idlib.
As reported by BBC, the Su-25 was operating over the town of Maasran in Idlib, where there had been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the previous 24 hours.
However, major media outlets also reported a salvo of cruise missiles had been fired into Idlib province from Russian navy vessels in the Mediterranean.
The Russian defence ministry confirmed only that “a series of high-precision weapons strikes has been delivered on the area.”
Video posted on social media showed the jet being hit and quickly catching fire, before spiralling to the ground.
Video from the ground showed the wreckage with red stars on the wings.
Russia’s defence ministry said: “The pilot had enough time to report that he had ejected in an area controlled by the militants”.
“During a battle with terrorists, the pilot was killed.”
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, that has operated in the region for years under a series of different names, said the plane had been carrying out an air raid over the nearby city of Saraqeb.
The defence ministry said it was making all possible efforts to retrieve the body.
Noteworthy this is the first time rebels have shot down a Russian fighter jet since Moscow began its Syria campaign in September 2015, although rebels did bring down a helicopter in 2016.
The Sukhoi Su-25 is a single-seat, twin-engine jet aircraft developed to perform close air support (CAS) and attack missions.
The type was heavily involved in the Soviet war in Afghanistan, flying counter-insurgency missions against the Mujahideen. The Iraqi Air Force employed Su-25s against Iran during the 1980–88 Iran–Iraq War. Most were later destroyed or flown to Iran during the Gulf War in 1991. The Georgian Air Force used Su-25s during the Abkhazia War from 1992 to 1993. The Macedonian Air Force used Su-25s against Albanian insurgents in the 2001 Macedonia conflict and, in 2008, Georgia and Russia both used Su-25s in the Russo-Georgian War. African states, including the Ivory Coast, Chad, and Sudan have used the Su-25 in local insurgencies and civil wars.
Photo credit: screenshot from video