Crashed Syrian plane’s pilot in Turkish hospital

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A Syrian military pilot whose aircraft crashed in Turkey near the two countries’ border is in hospital having been found after a nine-hour search, the Anadolu news agency said on Sunday.

According to the Turkish report, the 56-year-old Syrian colonel managed to jump out of the aircraft after pulling his parachute as the plane was going down.

He was recovered during an air and ground search and taken to a local hospital on Saturday night in the Turkish province of Hatay.

Turkish Deputy Prime Minister Nurettin Canikli, quoted by state-run agency Anadolu, said the pilot suffered multiple fractures and was still being treated as of Sunday.

Anadolu said the pilot was flying alone when the plane crashed.

A Syrian military source quoted by state television on Saturday said “contact was lost with a military aircraft on a reconnaissance mission near the Turkish border.”

The Syrian rebel group Ahrar al-Sham told AFP that it had shot down a government plane “as it was overflying Idlib province (in northwestern Syria) and carrying out air strikes.”

The pilot confirmed that he was sent from the western port city of Latakia to Idlib to carry out air strikes, where his plane was brought down, according to Anadolu.

Asked whether the pilot would be sent back to Syria, Canikli said a decision would be made “once all details have been clarified”.

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, quoted by Anadolu, had said Saturday that the cause of the crash was unknown, but he pointed to poor weather conditions at the time.

More than 310 000 people have died since the war in Syria erupted in March 2011 after regime forces crushed anti-government protests. Millions have since fled the country.

Turkey launched a military campaign inside Syria in August, backing opposition rebels who captured a number of towns from Islamic State jihadists, including Al Bab near the Turkish border.

Agencies 

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