German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier (C) gives a press statement on the downing of a Russian aircraft at the Syrian-Turkish border after attending the Seventh Aspen Southeast Europe Foreign Ministers' Conference held at the Italian Embassy in Berlin. AFP
The two pilots who ejected from a Russian war plane downed by Turkey on the Syrian border are believed to be alive and Turkish authorities are seeking to recover them, a government official said on Tuesday.
"Turkey has information that the two pilots are alive and right now Turkey is trying to recover them," the official told AFP, after reports that at least one of the pilots could have died after parachuting down inside Syria.
In Russia, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov just said "there is no official information" about the fate of the pilots from the downed plane.
CNN-Turk television said Syrian Turkmen forces fighting the Damascus regime had captured one of the pilots while Syrian opposition sources told AFP one had been killed by rebels and the second was missing.
In a separate incident, sources told AFP in Beirut that a Russian helicopter in the same area in Syria was destroyed by rebels on the ground after being forced to make an emergency landing following damage from rebel fire.
A Syrian military source told AFP that a unit of Syrian regime special forces saved the dozen-strong Russian commando team and brought them back to the regime stronghold of Latakia.