Russian fighters kill 30 militants after Su-25 downed in Syria


The group Tahrir al-Sham released a statement on social media quoting a commander in charge of its air defences as saying one of its fighters had hit the jet during an air raid over the city of Saraqeb in the northwestern province of Idlib.

Videos circulating online showed the alleged crash site of the fighter jet in Saraqeb, which the United Nations said has recently suffered "heavy shelling and aerial bombardment".

The Russian Ministry of Defense stated that the country's air forces conducted a high-precision group strike in the area controlled by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham militants in Idlib, from where a missile that downed Russian Su-25 aircraft was launched, Sputnik reported.

Russian Su-25 attack aircraft was downed in the Syrian northwestern province of Idlib on Saturday.

The Russian plane was shot down above Idlib province, which is one of the so-called de-escalation zones set up in Syria last September in an effort to scale back the conflict. The pilot safely parachuted but was killed on the ground by rebel ground forces.

Russian Federation and the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a Britian-based war monitoring group, said that the pilot was killed while exchanging gunfire with rebel fighters after parachuting to the ground.

From Istanbul, Turkish presidential spokesman, Ibrahim Kalin, said Turkey will not tolerate the presence of the YPG "anywhere" along its southern border, hinting that Ankara might expand the Afrin operation eastward.

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According to the ministry, at least 30 people were killed in those bombardments, press agency TASS reported. One of the armed men shouts: 'He is Russian'.

It was not immediately clear which anti-regime group shot down the jet.

Russian Federation is a key ally of President Bashar Assad, and has been waging a military campaign on behalf of his forces since 2015. The group is spearheaded by the former al-Nusra Front, which used to be al-Qaeda's branch in Syria. The YPG controls much of the territory along the border and an uninterrupted strip from Manbij to the Iraqi border.

Earlier in the day, the Observatory and the media arm of al-Qaida-linked militants reported intense airstrikes in Idlib.

Residents say thousands of people have been forced by air strikes to flee the area, moving further north to the safety of makeshift camps constructed on the Syrian side of the Turkish border.

Saraqeb has come under heavy bombardment from Russian and Syrian warplanes in recent days as pro-government forces try to recapture a strategic highway linking Damascus to Aleppo.

The U.N. says more than 270,000 people have been displaced in Idlib because of the government onslaught since December 15.