Syrian Airstrikes Kill Civilians in Northern Rebel Territory

Russian Federation lost its second combat jet in Syria, after an Su-25 ground attack aircraft was shot down by rebels in the Idlib province.

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

Russia's defence ministry also said the aircraft was downed by a portable surface-to-air missile.

The SU-25 came down on Saturday in an area of Syria's northern Idlib province that has seen heavy air strikes and fighting on the ground between government forces backed by Russian Federation and Iran, and rebels who oppose President Bashar al-Assad.

"The pilot reported on a bailout in an area controlled by rebels Jabhat Fatah al-Sham [previously known as al-Nusra Front]". Since then, Syrian government forces have captured wide parts of the country and in recent weeks have been marching in Idlib.

Aerial bombardment by the Syrian army in northwest Syria, the biggest remaining rebel-held enclave, killed at least 28 people on Thursday, a war monitor said.

Syrian government troops launched a major offensive around Idlib in late December, backed by Russian jets.

In fact, Rami Abdel Rahman of the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has reported on Saturday that "there have been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the past 24 hours".

A video posted on social media shows the jet being hit in mid-air and the pilot jumping off it.

Opposition factions have shot Syrian regime planes in the past, but downing Russian warplanes is much rarer.

A United Nations body in October 2017 held the government responsible for a Sarin gas attack on a rebel-held town that killed more than 87 people.

The military said Saturday's deaths were related to Turkey's operation against Syrian Kurdish-held Afrin, codenamed Olive Branch.

A total of eight Turkish soldiers and at least 24 allied Syrian opposition fighters have died so far in Ankara's offensive, which started on January 20.

It is not clear which group was responsible for downing the fighter jet.


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