BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:05 P.M.) – A powerful Al-Qaeda-linked militia which operates throughout Syria claims to posses the bodies of five Russian military personnel that were killed in the country’s northwest some eighteen months ago.
In a recent statement released via its official media channels, the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate group Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) claimed that it was in possession of the bodies of five Russian service personnel (2 of which are officers) that were killed when rebel fire downed their Mi-8 military transport helicopter whist it was over Idlib province on August 1, 2016.
Furthermore, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham also clarified in the statement that the recent transferal of Russian Su-25 pilot Roman Filipov’s deceased remains – killed on Saturday after his warplane was shot down – to the Turkish military (who then handed it over to Russian authorities) was not the group’s doing.
In other official communiques, Ha’yat Tahrir al-Sham claims that ‘revolutionaries’ (a reference to Free Syrian Army fighters) ‘stole’ Filipov’s body from its possession.
Whilst sources claim that the Russian pilot’s body was handed to Turkey by Free Syrian Army-linked group Faylaq al-Sham, no details exist on how rebel group came into possession of it.