DAMASCUS- The Russian Su-25 ground attack plane could have been shot down over a de-escalation zone in Syria by a man-portable air-defense (MANPAD) system, military expert Konstantin Sivkov told RIA Novosti
The Russian Defense Ministry earlier said the jet was downed over the Idlib de-escalation zone. The pilot managed to eject and parachute down safely, but was then killed by militants on the ground. All efforts are being undertaken to retrieve the pilot's body.
Shortly after the incident, Russia retaliated with a salvo of high-precision weapons wiping out over 30 al-Nusra terrorists active in the area.
[image: Su-25 jets during demo flights at the Russian stage of the Aviadarts-2015 Flight Skills Competition in Voronezh.] “The plane’s radar is unable to register an attack by handheld anti-aircraft missiles like Stinger or Igla because their missiles are armed with passive self-homing warheads. The Igla has a maximum range of 3 kilometers (1.8 miles), which means that the Su-25’s pilot was flying low, apparently thinking that since he was over a de-escalation zone, he would not be attacked,” Sivkov said.
He hopes that the incident will make the Air Force command ramp up flight security over the de-escalation zones in Syria. Sivkov believes that the terrorists could have obtained MANPADs either on the black market or at seized arms depots in Syria or Iraq.
He added that the militants’ decision to kill the pilot instead of taking him prisoner after he bailed out will not go unanswered and that a series of retaliatory strikes by Russian and Syrian forces will follow.
“These people ignore the generally recognized rules of engagement and, therefore, they must not be taken prisoner either. Now we know that there are terrorists out there in Idlib who violate the ceasefire and deserve massive missile strikes by Russian and Syrian forces. They will have to pay with hundreds of their criminal lives for the death of our pilot,” Konstantin Sivkov emphasized.
The incident took place on territory controlled by the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham terror group amid an ongoing military operation conducted by Syrian forces.