First pictures emerge of Russian pilot killed when Turkish F-16 shot down his jet over Syria, plus the co-pilot who survived and infantryman killed during daring rescue mission
- Cpt. Konstantin Murahtin and Lt. Col Oleg Peshkov piloted Russian jet
- Both parachuted when Turkey shot jet, Peshkov killed by Syrian rebels
- Cpt. Murahtin was rescued in 12-hour military operation overnight
- Russian soldier Alexandr Pozynich was killed during the rescue op
This is the Russian jet pilot who survived being shot down by the Turkish army and was rescued in a dramatic 12-hour military operation earlier today.
Captain Konstantin Murahtin was saved by Russian military in an all-night joint operation with Syrian government forces, and taken to a Russian air base.
His co-pilot Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Peshkov has been confirmed dead, reportedly shot by Syrian Turkmen rebels as he parachuted out of the flaming wreckage of their Sukhoi SU-24.
Speaking after his rescue, Cpt. Murahtin flatly denied there were any warnings from Turkish F16 pilots that his plane was about to be shot out of the sky.
‘There was no warning, by radio exchange nor visually. There was no contact at all,’ he said. ‘The Turks did not get in touch with us.’
Cpt. Murahtin is from a family of Russian air force pilots: his father was a lieutenant colonel, and also a co-pilot in charge of navigation.
‘We were flying at about 6,000-metre altitude. The weather was sunny, what we call ‘million-by-million’,’ he said.
‘All the flight before the moment when the missile exploded was completely under my control.
‘I could clearly see with the map and visually where the borders were and where we were. There even wasn’t a threat of entering Turkey.’
He was speaking at an impromtu press conference at the Russian Hemeimeem air base in Syria after his rescue.
‘If they wanted to warn us, they could have showed themselves by flying at a parallel course. But there was nothing.
‘And the missile hit the tail of our plane all of a sudden
‘We didn’t see it visually. To have enough time to do an anti-missile manoeuvre.’
Cpt Murahtin told of how he landed in rebel held territory where he spent several hours hiding in a forest’ before being found using his radio beacon.
He was rescued after an 18-strong Syrian SWAT team backed by six fighters from the elite division of Shia Hezbollah movement, and then spirited to the Hemeimeem air base.
After ejecting and parachuting to rebel held territory, he spent several hours hiding in a forest’before being found using his radio beacon. He was then spirited to the Hemeimeem air base.
He added that he wants to keep flying missions from the Russian base ‘to pay them back for my commander’.
Russian President Vladimir Putin announced that Cpt. Murahtin ‘and the other participants, including in the rescue operation, will be awarded state honours.’
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