Syrian Insurgents Claim Aircraft Was Shot Down Just After Take-Off.
Reports surfacing across international media say that the Syrian insurgent group Tahrir al-Sham has shot down a Syrian Arab Air Force Sukhoi Su-22 attack aircraft. Some reports claim the pilot, reported as a “Colonel” on Twitter, has been captured. Photos shared on Twitter show aircraft wreckage along with a pilot’s helmet, parachute and life support equipment. The Syrian government has not issued a statement about the incident.
No photos or identity of the pilot have surfaced on social media or through news outlets yet.
#Suriye‘de #İdlib‘in güneyinde esad rejimine bağlı bir savaş uçağı Tahrir Şam heyeti tarafından Han şeyhun civarında düşürüldü. Pilotun akıbeti bilinmiyor.#HTŞ
— Mete Sohtaoğlu (@metesohtaoglu) August 14, 2019
According to a story in the Jerusalem Post, “Tahrir al-Sham’s statement did not say how the plane had been shot down. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said heavy machine guns had been used.”
The shoot-down comes after a period of increased air attacks in the region. A report published today, August 14, 2019, by the Syrian media outlet Muraselon.com said that, “Over the last 12 hours, the Syrian Air Force has been conducting interdiction strikes against militant groups north of the current Syrian Army line of advance towards Khan Sheykhun.”
“Syrian Arab Air Force”
Sukhoi Su-22 pic.twitter.com/4qSW7F4zCu
— Julian Röpcke (@JulianRoepcke) August 14, 2019
The report published this morning local time by Muraselon went on to say, “Beginning last night and lasting until recent hours, the Syrian Air Force was once again engaged in a high-tempo operation with warplanes scrambling to launch strikes on insurgent rallying areas across the southern countryside of Idlib province. The Syrian Air Force engaged militant movements and gatherings in and around the towns of Madaya, Kafr Sajna, Jabala, Baskala, Has and Kafr Ruma. Located north of the current Syrian Army line of advance on the axis of Al-Hobait towards Khan Sheykhun, these towns are reportedly being used by militant factions as rally areas in preparation for a suspected counter-attack.”
Footage shows downed #SyAAF pilot parachuting onto S. #Idlib, and trying to make a run for it while civilians are in pursuit.
‘Look, he’s escaping. Where are the rebels?’
‘He might have a gun on him’
‘Where’s the motorbike? Let’s get out of here, the area is going to be shelled’ pic.twitter.com/Knc1sHhek5
— Riam Dalati (@Dalatrm) August 14, 2019
The Sukhoi Su-22, NATO codename “Fitter”, is a large, single-engine, single-seat ground attack aircraft with variable geometry “swing” wings. It first flew in 1966 and entered service in 1970. Since then the Su-22 has gone into service with the former Soviet Union, Angola, Iraq, Iran, Libya, Peru, Poland, Syria, Vietnam and Yemen.