This is for our guys: Pilot blows himself up rather than be captured
A Russian pilot shouted “this is for our guys” before detonating a grenade to avoid capture by rebel fighters in Syria.
Major Roman Fillipov ejected from his Sukhoi 25SM fighter jet with a parachute after it was shot down on Saturday while he was flying low over opposition-held Idlib in northwestern Syria.
It was the first Russian jet to be downed since Moscow intervened in the war in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime in 2015.
After the jet was struck by a shoulder-launched anti-aircraft MANPAD missile, the 33-year-old pilot kept the plane in the air but was eventually forced to eject after one of the engines failed and flight controls became unresponsive.
Militants from al-Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) opened fire on him after his parachute opened, but he made it to the ground. According to a video circulating on social media on Monday, Major Filipov shot two fighters before detonating a grenade to avoid capture.The fighters ducked as Filipov was heard shouting: “This is for our guys” before pulling the pin.
Filipov, from Vladivostok, has been posthumously nominated for the Kremlin’s highest honour, the Hero of Russia, according to a report in Russian daily newspaper Kommersant.Russia’s defence ministry confirmed the reports, saying: “Major Roman Filipov fought an unequal battle with his service weapon until the last minute of his life.
“When surrounded by the terrorists and heavily wounded, the Russian officer blew himself up with a grenade when the militants got within several dozen metres of him.”
“The pilot died heroically,” said Dmitry Peskov, the Kremlin spokesman added. “We are proud of our heroes.”
Russia has since ordered its warplanes in Syria to fly at 5,000m to avoid being shot down by shoulder-launched anti-aircraft missiles.
It said that such a policy had previously been in force, but that the SU-25s had for some reason started flying at lower altitudes in recent days.Peskov said the weapons posed a “huge danger” to all governments.
It came as Russia intensified their raids on Idlib overnight and into Monday morning in retaliation.
Civil defence workers said air raids struck the towns of Kafr Nubl and Maasran, as well as the cities of Saraqeb, Maarat al Numan and Idlib, and that several deaths and dozens of injuries were reported as rescuers dug through the rubble.
A hospital was hit in Maarat al Numan and at least five people were feared killed in another attack that damaged a residential building in Kafr Nubl.
Video recorded by rescuers hospitals workers moving premature babies from destroyed incubators, trying to protect them from the dust.