Report: Acting on Russian intel, Syria forces murdered pilots of downed Turkey jet
Al Arabiya cites leaked Syrian documents describing how Assad's forces seized Turkish crew members while still alive, and killed them following Russian 'guidance and information.'
The crew members of a Turkish fighter jet that crashed into the Mediterranean earlier this year survived the impact, only to be later killed by Syria forces following intelligence provided by Russia, the Al Arabiya network reported on Saturday, citing leaked confidential Syrian documents.
Al Arabiya's report came amid months of speculation concerning the June 22 incident, involved the suspected downing of Turkish F-4 reconnaissance jet. Turkey has accused Syria of shooting down the warplane, a claim that Damascus has denied, saying that its forces did not intentionally shoot down the jet.
The plane's wreckage, with the bodies of the its two crew members still trapped inside, was found on the Mediterranean seabed in early July.
Earlier this month, an official report by Turkey's military indicated that the F-4 was shot down after a Syrian anti-aircraft missile exploded near it, causing it to lose its bearings and subsequently crash.
However, leaked Syrian documents obtained by Al Arabiya on Saturday, indicated that the plane's two pilots may have been still alive following the crash, with the office of Syrian President Bashar Assad reportedly ordering Syrian forces to murder the captured crew members and return their bodies to the scene of the crash.
One document obtained by Al Arabiya, reportedly sent from Assad's office to brigadier Hassan Abdel Rahman, who the network identified as the head of Syrian Special Operations, stated that "two Turkish pilots were captured by the Syrian Air Force Intelligence after their jet was shot down in coordination with the Russian naval base in Tartus.”
In addition, the report claimed that the Syrian general was ordered to treat the pilots in accordance to the protocol concerning war prisoners, and that they be investigated concerning Turkey's alleged role in supporting the Syria uprising against Assad.
Citing a second leaked document, Al Arabiya quoted another order, sent by Assad's bureau to the heads of Syrian foreign intelligence, according to which unidentified Russian sources may have urged the Syrian regime to slay the Turkish prisoners.
“Based on information and guidance from the Russian leadership comes a need to eliminate the two Turkish pilots detained by the Special Operations Unit in a natural way and their bodies need to be returned to the crash site in international waters,” the document reportedly said.
One document reportedly indicated that Assad was willing to consider a suggestion by a general "Bassam" to transfer the two crew members to Lebanon, where they will be held captive by Hezbollah in order to serve as future bargaining chips.
However, this suggestion was eventually rejected.
In addition, Al Arabiya reported that the Syrian documents indicated that Assad regime considered threatening Turkey with mobilizing the Kurdistan’s Workers Party militant group against Ankara if Turkey decided on military action against Damascus.
Al Arabiya claims to be in possession of hundreds of classified documents that shed light on the details of an Iranian and Russian involvement in the Assad regime, showing, among other claims, that Damascus' two allies formed a joint command in Syria.
Furthermore, the leaked papers are said to indicate Hezbollah's key role in assassinating key Syrian activists as well as orchestrating large-scale bombing attacks in order to sow chaos and instability in the war-torn country.
It should be noted that the Syria regime has yet to respond to the publication. However, Syrian officials have repeatedly dismissed Al Arabiya's reports, claiming that the network, funded by the Saudi monarchy, has reported the Syrian crisis in biased manner, accusing it of urging Assad's ouster.