Syrian rebels shot down a Russian fighter jet last week. The initial reports from that incident said that the pilot of the plane had died in the crash. Follow-ups claimed he had been captured and executed. Now video of his final moments have been published, and it looks like the pilot went out fighting.
The video is being backed up by official statements from Moscow. In the footage, Major Roman Filipov, possibly injured by the crash, is being surrounded by armed rebels. He then shouts “This is for our guys!” He then detonates a grenade.
“A Russian Su-25 aircraft crashed during a flight over the Idlib de-escalation zone,” the Russian Defense Ministry wrote in a statement. “The pilot had enough time to announce he had ejected into the zone, under the control of al-Nusra Front fighters.”
“The pilot was killed in fighting against terrorists.”
The Russian Defense Ministry later added that Filipov was “fighting the rebels until the last minute.”
“Maj. Filipov, from Vladivostok, east Russia has been awarded Kremlin’s highest honor – the Hero of Russia medal – posthumously,” The Daily Mail reports.
“In a statement seen by Russia Today,” the Mail adds, “the Ministry said the pilot had ejected from his Sukhoi 25SM fighter jet after being hit with a missile from a portable surface-to-air system in Idlib, Syria.”
The Kremlin has also expressed concerns about the origins of the missile system that the rebels used to shoot down the plane. They characterize the rebel groups fighting against the Syrian regime as terrorists. Many of those groups have been armed by the United States, and others who are backing the rebellion.
“After landing, Maj. Filipov remained in radio contact with the Russian airbase in Khmeimim, Syria, and reported shooting and killing two jihadist fighters with his hand gun as they closed in on him,” The Mail reports.
After the plane was shot down, the Russians intensified air strikes. Their forces were on the ground soon after the plane went down, and the pilot’s remains were removed.