Russian Pilot Shot Down over Syria Blew Himself Up to Avoid Capture


The Russian pilot who was shot down over Syria on Saturday blew himself up with a grenade to avoid being captured by rebels, according to Russian media.

Maj. Roman Filipov was flying over the town of Maasran in Idlib province after conducting airstrikes in the region when his Su-25 was hit with what Russian authorities said was a MANPAD.

Filipov ejected and landed on the ground, but was quickly surrounded by rebels. Armed with a Stechkin pistol, he hid behind a stone embankment and reportedly unloaded a clip before getting wounded. As the rebels approached, he apparently shouted "this is for the boys!" and then detonated a grenade.

video later emerged on social media showing rebels surrounding Filipov before a small explosion is heard and a plume of smoke rises.

An al-Qaeda offshoot known as Hayat Tahrir al Sham has since taken responsibility for the attack, according to Long War Journal.

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Filipov's body has since been recovered, according to Reuters.

The Russian Defense Ministry said Filipov was "flying over the Idlib de-escalation zone for controlling ceasefire regime observance," and Russian state-owned media said he was conducting "a routine flight over the de-escalation zone."

But reports on the ground suggest that Filipov was conducting airstrikes, which have been devastating Idlib since Russia and the Syrian regime escalated bombing runs in the province in late December.

Idlib is part of the de-escalation zones in Syria set up by Russia, Turkey, and Iran.

Russia and the Syrian regime have apparently responded with massive air raids since Filipov was killed. Russian state-owned media reported shortly after the Su-25 downing that Russian forces killed at least 30 terrorists in the region.

Multiple civilians were also killed in more than 150 airstrikes in Idlib on Sunday, which Moscow neglected to report. More raids were conducted on Monday, striking hospitals and killing at least 15 civilians.

Barrel bombs filled with chlorine gas were also reportedly dropped on Sunday in the town of Saraqeb, a few miles from Maasran, which injured at least nine people. The White Helmets released a disturbing video of the alleged attack on Sunday night, which is reportedly the sixth chlorine gas attack in the last month.

"The United States is gravely alarmed by continued allegations of the use of chlorine gas by the Syrian Regime to terrorize innocent civilians, this time in Idlib Province near Saraqib," the US State Department said in a statement on Monday night.

"The people of Syria are suffering; the rest of the world is watching."

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