Report: Russia Ordered Deaths of Turkish Pilots
Turkish pilots killed in Syria were deliberately executed following consultation between Damascus and Moscow, Saudi Arabia’s Al-Arabiya news reported Saturday. The news station says it has obtained classified Syrian documents proving the story, that will be published online, true.
In June, Syrian forces shot down a Turkish plane, sparking outrage in Turkey. The plane’s pilots were believed to have been killed instantly.
However, according to the report the two survived, after their jet was shot down, and were taken into custody by the Syrian Air Force. A letter, allegedly sent by Syrian President Bashar Assad’s office to a top commander, states that the pilots were captured “after their jet was shot down in coordination with the Russian naval base in Tartus.”
Russian military involvement in the shooting down of the plane was suspected for some time.
A subsequent file, also alleged to have been sent by Assad’s office, says, “Based on information and guidance from the Russian leadership comes a need to eliminate the two Turkish pilots detained by the Special Operations Unit in a natural way and their bodies need to be returned to the crash site in international waters.”
In July, Turkey found the bodies of the two pilots and the plane wreckage in the Mediterranean Sea.
The second letter printed by Al-Arabiya suggests that the Assad regime apologize, while at the same time threatening the Turkish government with Syria’s ability to mobilize Kurdish forces on its border. Assad did apologize for the incident in early July, saying his forces had thought the plane was Israeli.