Newly-leaked classified Syrian intelligence documents indicate that the two Turkish air force pilots who were flying the F-4 Phantom jet that was shot down in June by Bashar Assad's regime, survived the crash but were later executed by Assad's soldiers.
The classified documents were recently obtained by the United Arab Emirates-based Al Arabiya network, with the assistance of members of the Syrian opposition. The report was later denied by Western sources.
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According to the report, one highly confidential document that was sent directly from the presidential office of Assad to brigadier Hassan Abdel Rahman, the chief of the Syrian Special Operations Unit, states the following: “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 the Syrian city of Tartus.”
The file reveals two critical reports: First, the pilots were still alive after the plane had crashed. Secondly, that Russia was involved in this secretive mission.
Newly-leaked classified intelligence document
The document further ordered the concerned parties to treat the Turkish pilots according to the protocol of war prisoners, as instructed by the president.
It also requested that both men be investigated about Turkey’s role in supporting the Free Syrian Army (FSA), the country’s main armed opposition group.
The report also suggests the possibility of transferring the pilots into the neighboring Lebanese territory, leaving them in the custody of Assad’s ally, Hezbollah.
A subsequently leaked file, which was also obtained by Al Arabiya, reads: “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 also suggested that the Syrian government sends a “menacing” message to the Turkish government, insinuating Syria’s capability of mobilizing Kurdistan’s Workers Party (PKK) on the Turkish borders, notifying Ankara from the danger it might face in case of any hostile move.
The report insists that the Syrian leadership should hasten and make a formal apology to the Turkish government for bringing down the plane, which would embarrass the Turks and win the support of international public opinion.
Sources deny report
Western sources, however, denied the allegations, telling Ynet's military analyst Ron Ben-Yishai that the pilots in fact died in the June 22 crash.
According to the sources, the pilot and the navigator, who were on an intelligence mission, believed that if they flew the plane relatively close to the ground they would avoid being detected by Syrian radars, but instead they became an easy target. They were shot down by antiaircraft missiles less than a kilometer away from the Syrian shore.
After a series of angry exchanges between Syria and Turkey, the two bodies were found at the site of the crash, the sources said.
Ron Ben-Yishai contributed to the report
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