A navigator from the Russian Su-24 fighter-bomber downed on the Turkish-Syrian border on Tuesday has been rescued, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, the Interfax news agency reported Wednesday.
The rescue was a result of 12-hour joint operation carried out by Russian and Syrian special forces squadrons, the minister said. The navigator was taken to a Russian military base where he is reportedly in good health.
The pilot of the bomber had been wounded by ground fire after ejecting from the plane and was killed on the ground by jihadists, Russian ambassador to France Alexander Orlov told Europe 1 radio earlier on Wednesday.
Two Mi-8 helicopters were used during the rescue mission — rebels fired on one helicopter, killing a Russian marine on board and forcing it to land in neutral territory, Interfax reported Wednesday, citing General Staff Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi.
The Russian Su-24 was hit by an air-to-air missile from a Turkish F-16 interceptor close to the Turkish-Syrian border Tuesday morning. Turkey said the jet had violated its airspace while Russia insisted that the plane was on the Syrian territory.