Russian Pilot Safe After Jet Shot Down on Syria-Turkey Border

One of the Russian pilots who ejected from a jet shot down by Turkey was confirmed “alive and well” early Wednesday after a 12-hour rescue operation behind enemy lines, officials said.


The warplane crashed in an area controlled by militants trying to overthrow President Bashar Assad, a key Russian ally who Moscow is trying to prop up through airstrikes. Russia says it is targeting ISIS — but many areas where the extremists don’t have a presence have been bombed and other anti-Assad groups say their positions have been hit.


The Kremlin says a pilot and a Marine sent to rescue the downed crew were killed by rebels in Syria on Tuesday — but the surviving pilot managed to evade capture in hostile territory. He was later picked up by troops loyal to the Assad regime.


Moscow identified the survivor as Capt. Konstantin Murtakhtin and awarded him an Order of Courage medal. His colleague, Lt. Col. Oleg Peshkov, was posthumously given the Hero of Russia award — one of the highest honorary titles bestowed by the Russian government.


Murtakhtin was brought back to a Russian base in Syria’s Latakia province “alive and well” early Wednesday, according to a tweet by the Defense Ministry. It added that the 12-hour rescue operation ended at 3:40 a.m. Moscow time (7:40 p.m. ET on Tuesday).


Read More: Russian Pilot Safe After Jet Shot Down on Syria-Turkey Border – NBC News