ISLAMABAD - Senior Russian lawmakers have urged the country to probe the origin of the man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD), which was reportedly used by Takfiri terrorists to down a Russian jet over Syria .
Russia’s Defense Ministry confirmed in a statement on Saturday that the Su-25 fighter jet had been shot down in Syria’s northwestern province of Idlib. <link>
Citing preliminary data it said the jet had been downed by a MANPAD. The pilot had parachuted down into the area controlled by Jabhat Fateh al-Sham Takfiri outfit, formerly known as al-Nusra Front, but was killed during a confrontation with militants from an unspecified group.
Russian military planes retaliated afterwards by targeting the Nusra-controlled area of Idlib and killing more than 30 terrorists.
"Certainly, we will investigate, including a great many things: from the type of the MANPADS to the circumstances of the Su-25 downing," Frants Klintsevich, the first deputy chair of the Russian Federal Council’s Defense Committee told Interfax. "The loss of one aircraft is nothing, but politically, it has great significance and far-reaching consequences," he added.
MP Dmitry Sablin, the coordinator of the Russia-Syria parliamentary friendship group, said, "We have information that the MANPADS used to bring down our jet was brought into Syria from a neighboring country several days ago."
"Countries from whose territory weapons arrive, that are then used against Russian servicemen, must understand that this will not go unpunished," he told the agency.
Deputy head of the State Duma’s Defense Committee, Yury Shvytkin, told Russia’s RIA news agency he was inclined to believe that the "MANPADS origins were linked with Western countries."
A 2017 military spending bill, signed under former US President Barack Obama, allowed supply of such weapons to the militants fighting the Syrian government.
In September 2016, Reuters cited an unnamed US official as saying that Washington “has kept large numbers of such man-portable air defense systems, or MANPADS, out of Syria by uniting Western and Arab allies behind channeling training and infantry weapons” to anti-Damascus militants.
“The Saudis have always thought that the way to get the Russians to back off is what worked in Afghanistan 30 years ago – negating their air power by giving MANPADS to the Mujahideen,” it quoted another American official as saying. However the situation can get worst if Russians give SAMs to Taliban for shooting down US Jet in Afghanistan.
Members of the Ansar al-Islam Front were shown in a video posted in November 2016, parading a cache of shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles, the first evidence of the weapons being supplied to militants after an expected relaxing of US restrictions.
Russia has been lending aerial support to Syria’s counter-terrorism operations since September 2016.
The United States and its allies, including regional ally Saudi Arabia, however, have been backing the militants against Damascus since the onset of the crisis.