Remains of Su-24 pilot killed in Syria arrive in Russia escorted by fighter jets (VIDEO)
The body of the pilot of the Su-24 bomber shot down by a Turkish F-16 fighter jet over Syria last week has arrived in Russia.
The plane bearing the pilot’s remains, which flew in from Ankara, landed at the Chkalovsky military airfield outside Moscow on Monday, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
The plane was greeted by Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu and Head of Russian Aerospace Forces Victor Bondarev. The brother of the killed pilot was also present, RT correspondent Ilya Petrenko reported from the scene.
The silent drill team greeted the killed pilot with military honors.
“During the flight over Russian airspace the plane was accompanied by an escort of fighters," the ministry said in a statement.
“We will always follow his example of fulfilling his duty. And those who plotted and committed this betrayal will suffer the retribution they deserve,” Victor Bondarev said, as cited by RIA Novosti.
The repatriation of the body was arranged after a military funeral service attended by the Russian ambassador and other military officials, Reuters reports.
After the bomber was hit by an air-to-air missile fired at the Russian aircraft from behind, both men on board managed to eject. The pilot, Oleg Peshkov, was shot dead in the air by machine gunfire from a group of local rebels led by a Turkish national while parachuting to the ground.
The family’s hearts were “full of hope or even perhaps relief” when the first videos of the aftermath of the crash came out showing two parachutes, Petrenko reports.
However, shortly after that another video emerged showing the pilot’s body surrounded by bearded men screaming “Allah Akbar!” The men identified themselves as Turkmen rebels – a group which has ethnic links with Turkey and is fighting Syrian government forces in.
Navigator Konstantin Murakhtin was able to land unharmed and was later saved by a rescue team. Murakhtin is now in hospital in Moscow, where he has reportedly been reunited with his wife.
The dead pilot, Oleg Peshkov, had a wife and two children. He will be buried in his home town of Lipetsk in the west of Russia.
Turkish Prime Minister Ahmed Davutoglu said on Monday that it would be difficult to prevent airspace incidents “if we continue to have two coalitions fighting in Syria.”
The Turkish PM also said that Ankara does not want to escalate the conflict with Moscow over the downed Russian warplane further and expressed Turkey’s readiness for dialogue “on all levels.”
The body of the Russian pilot was treated in accordance with the Orthodox Christian tradition, PM Davutoglu told journalists in Ankara.