The body of a Russian pilot killed in fighting with terrorists in Syria has been brought back to his home country, the defence ministry in Moscow said Tuesday.
“In cooperation with Turkish colleagues, Russian military intelligence brought back to Russia the body of an attack pilot, Major Roman Filipov, who died as a hero on February 3,” the defence ministry said.
In a separate statement, the Kremlin said that the Hero of Russia award, the country’s top honour, had been posthumously bestowed upon Filipov for his “heroism, courage and bravery”.
Filipov will be laid to rest on Thursday with military honours in line with his family’s wishes in the city of Voronezh, some 500 kilometres south of Moscow, the defence ministry said.
After Filipov’s warplane was shot down over Syria’s Idlib province on Saturday he parachuted to the ground and was killed in a clash with terrorists as they tried to take him hostage.
Moscow said its Su-25 warplane had been shot down by a portable anti-aircraft missile system.
Armed with an automatic pistol, the badly wounded pilot opened fire on the terrorists closing in on him and then blew himself up with a hand grenade to avoid capture.
Before taking his own life he shouted “This is for our guys!”, according to video footage released by terrorists and broadcast by national television in Russia.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), a powerful terrorist-dominated alliance, said the Russian warplane had been shot down in retaliation for a ferocious bombing campaign by Russian warplanes over Idlib.
Moscow says Filipov’s plane was shot down during a mission to monitor a ceasefire in the so-called Idlib de-escalation zone set up by Russia, Turkey and Iran to reduce violence in the war-torn country.
Russia’s defence ministry also said it had asked Turkey for help in receiving the wreckage of the Su-25 warplane.