Contradictory reports emerged on Tuesday evening about the fate of the two pilots of the Russian jet shot down by Turkey on the Syrian border.
Both pilots who ejected from the Russian war plane are believed to be alive and Turkish authorities are seeking to recover them, a government official said on Tuesday.
“Turkey has information that the two pilots are alive and right now Turkey is trying to recover them,” the official told AFP.
Russian military, however, said one of two pilots was killed by fire from the ground after he parachuted from the craft, citing what it said was preliminary informatio
“The plane fell in Syrian territory, four kilometres (2.5 miles) from the border. The crew ejected. According to preliminary information, one of the pilot died after being fired upon from the ground,” military spokesperson General Sergei Rudskoi said in televised remarks.
CNN-Turk television said Syrian Turkmen forces fighting the Damascus regime had captured one of the pilots while Syrian opposition sources told AFP one had been killed by rebels and the second was missing.
In a separate incident, sources told AFP in Beirut that a Russian helicopter in the same area in Syria was destroyed by rebels on the ground after being forced to make an emergency landing following damage from rebel fire.
A Syrian military source told AFP that a unit of Syrian regime special forces saved the dozen-strong Russian commando team and brought them back to the regime stronghold of Latakia.