Russia seeks alleged killer of Turkey-downed jet pilot after Rabia recapture
Nerdun Hacıoğlu – MOSCOWRussian soldiers are searching for the alleged killer of a Russian pilot who was shot after the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey near the Syrian border on Nov. 24, according to reports by Russian media.
Alparslan Çelik, a Turkish citizen who claimed to have shot Russian pilot Oleg Peshkov, and his group were in the rebel-held Rabia town in the western coastal province of Latakia, which was recently recaptured by Syrian pro-government forces, where soldiers were looking to “take revenge,” Russian DNI and Lifenews have reported.
The U.K.-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights has also reported that Russian officers entered Rabia.
Backed by Russian airstrikes, Syrian pro-government forces recaptured the town on Jan. 24.
After the downing of the jet, Alparslan Çelik defended the killing of Peshkov in a video, saying that the pilot had dropped bombs on the 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,” said Çelik.
“Reprisal is the most natural right. There is life in reprisal,” he added.
In an interview with daily Cumhuriyet on Dec. 14, Russian Ambassador to Turkey Andrey Karlov had claimed that the person who shot Peshkov was Çelik, a Turkish citizen.
Moscow also demanded Ankara arrest Çelik on Dec. 30, 2015.
“We demand that the Turkish authorities take immediate steps to apprehend Alparslan Çelik and his accomplices and bring them to justice for the murder of the Russian pilot,” Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said in a statement.
Both pilots aboard the downed Su-24 jet ejected and parachuted to the ground on the Syrian side of the border. However, Peshkov was killed by gun fire from the ground after ejecting from the plane.