Syrian rebels down Russian jet, kill pilot

Syrian Kurds mourn in the northern town of Afrin during the funeral on Feb. 1 2018 of fighters from the People's Protection Units militia and the Women's Protection Units, killed in clashes in the Kurdish enclave in northern Syria on the bord

Massive high-precision weapons strikes have been delivered at targets in the area, from which a missile from the man-portable air-defense system (MANPADS) was launched to bring down the Russian Su-25 fighter jet, 30 militants of the Jabhat al-Nusra terrorist group (banned in Russia) have been killed, Russia's Defense Ministry said on Saturday.

Idlib has always been the region where civilians and fighters have gone as they fled rebel-friendly areas under siege by the Syrian regime.

Russia's Defense Ministry said that the aircraft was downed by a MANPAD portable surface-to-air missile during a flight around the de-escalation zone in the province. The pilot opened fire from his pistol as the militants were trying to seize him, said the militant, who refused to be identified by his real name because was not authorized to speak to the media.

The Russian defence ministry said the pilot had ejected but was killed in a ground fight.

A picture taken on February 3, 2018, shows a Rebel fighter taking a picture of a downed Sukhoi-25 fighter jet in Syria's northwest province of Idlib.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime recently resumed airstrikes on rebel-held areas such as Idlib province, prompting tens of thousands of civilians to flee their homes, according to United Nations officials.

The witness said that a pilot parachuted.

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Turkey says major progress has been made in the operation and hundreds of YPG fighters killed so far, although it is not possible to verify these figures.

It happened in a rebel-held area near Idlib in the north of the country.

Video posted on social media appeared to show the plane being hit, while other video showed burning wreckage on the ground, with a red star on a wing.

Syrian soldiers and Iranian-backed militiamen were now around 12 kilometres from Saraqeb, advancing towards the Damascus-Aleppo highway under cover of heavy Russian air strikes, two opposition sources said.

Russian air force losses have been rare since it began its Syria campaign in September 2015.

UN Syria envoy Staffan de Mistura, who attended the meeting, said the United Nations would lead efforts to form the commission.

The Turkish operation aims to clear Afrin of the US -backed Syrian Kurdish militia, known as the People's Protection Units or YPG, which Turkey considers to be a terrorist group and an extension of the Kurdish insurgency within its borders.

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