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MIDEAST >Alleged killer of Russian jet pilot appears at funeral in Istanbul

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Alparslan Çelik appeared during the funeral ceremony for National Movement Party’s (MHP) Fatih district deputy head İbrahim Küçük on Jan. 27, 2016. DHA Photo

Alparslan Çelik appeared during the funeral ceremony for National Movement Party’s (MHP) Fatih district deputy head İbrahim Küçük on Jan. 27, 2016. DHA Photo

A Turkish man wanted by Russia for allegedly killing one of the two pilots of the Russian jet downed by Turkey near the Turkish-Syrian border in late 2015 has appeared at a funeral ceremony in Istanbul, saying he would go back to Syria.

“I am here and there. I am going and returning. And now, I came for the funeral ceremony and I will go again,” said Alparslan Çelik, the son of a former district mayor elected from Turkey’s Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), while speaking to reporters on Jan. 27 during the funeral ceremony of İbrahim Küçük, the head of the MHP bureau in Istanbul’s Fatih district who was killed by aerial bombardment in a Turkmen village in Syria.

Çelik made statements implicating he would return to Syrian and fight against Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) militants. Media reports in 2014 said Çelik had been traveling to Syria and Iraq to fight alongside Turkmens who had been subjected to attacks by ISIL.

Çelik, a Turkish citizen who claimed to have shot Russian pilot Oleg Peshkov, appeared during the funeral of Küçük, who was killed by Russian airstrikes during fighting in the Turkmen Mountains in Syria.

“The martyr [Küçük] was our friend. He was with us in Bayırbucak and Turkmen Mountain. We were together,” Çelik said, adding he has been occasionally crossing into Syria.

“I am here and there. I am going and returning. And now, I came for the funeral ceremony and I will go again,” Çelik added.

Russian media had reported that soldiers were searching for Çelik and looking to “take revenge” for Peshkov after Syrian pro-government forces recaptured the rebel-held town of Rabia backed by Russian airstrikes on Jan. 24.

After the downing of the jet, Çelik defended the killing of Peshkov in a video, saying the pilot had dropped bombs on Turkmens.

“That pilot bombed us five minutes [before Turkey downed the Russian jet] and our brothers were killed or wounded by these bombs. There is no place for a person who has bombed civilian Turkmens every day in my conscious,” Çelik had said.

“Reprisal is the most natural right. There is life in reprisal,” he added. 

Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov had claimed the person who shot Peshkov was Çelik, a Turkish citizen, and Moscow demanded Ankara arrest Çelik on Dec. 30, 2015.

Both pilots aboard the Russian Su-24 jet downed by Turkey on Nov. 24, 2015, ejected and parachuted to the ground on the Syrian side of the border. However, Peshkov was killed by gunfire from the ground after ejecting from the plane.

January/28/2016

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