Downed Russian Pilot Set Off Grenade to Avoid Capture By Syrian Militants
Sergei Bobylev / TASS
The pilot of a Russian Su-25 fighter jet shot down by militants in northern Syria on Saturday avoided capture by blowing himself up with a grenade.
The Russian Defense Ministry confirmed on Saturday that the Su-25 pilot had successfully ejected but later died in a gun battle with militants. Russia stepped up airstrikes in the Idlib province shortly after the downing, killing more than 30 Islamist fighters from Jabhat al-Nusrah, the terror group that was linked to the plane's downing, Interfax reported on Saturday.
“He shot back as much as he could once encircled, but when the situation became desperate, Major [Roman] Filipov blew himself up with a grenade,” the Kommersant business daily reported Monday, citing military sources.
The defense ministry later confirmed that the pilot had taken his life with a grenade after being encircled by militants, Interfax reported.
Unverified social media footage picked up by Russian state television reportedly shows Filipov’s last battle.
“This one is for the lads,” a man is heard shouting in Russian, followed by the sound of an explosion and a plume of smoke amid a scattered group of armed men in military fatigues.
The Defense Ministry announced that it would posthumously award Filipov the “Hero of Russia” title, the country’s highest honor.