A Russian pilot who was brought down by rebel fighters in Syria killed himself with a grenade to avoid capture by ISIS.
33-year-old Major Roman Filipov from Vladivostok, east Russia, was filmed by the rebels themselves yelling ‘this is for our guys’ before detonating the explosive.
He has now been awarded the Kremlin’s highest honour, the Hero of Russia medal, posthumously.
In a statement seen by the Russian Times, the Russian Defence Ministry confirmed Filipov was fighting off the militants until the last minute setting off the grenade when he became surrounded.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said:
The pilot died heroically. The pilot’s family and friends have our condolences, and we are proud of our heroes
The Ministry also stated that Filipov’s fighter jet had been hit by a missile fired via a portable surface-to-air system.
They added that it was too early to say who supplied the system to the rebels but said it was worrying that such rockets were in their hands.
The Times of Israel reports Rami Abdel Rahman, head of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said:
The pilot was killed as he fought Islamist rebels who had shot down his plane and were taking him captive.
There have been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the past 24 hours. This plane was also carrying out raids there.
After crashing Filipov remained in radio contact with the Russian airbase in Khmeimim, Syria, reporting that he had shot and killed two jihadist fighters with his hand gun.
His last words and death were filmed by members of the Al-Qaeda linked group the Al-Nusra Front who can be seen celebrating as the wreckage from his crash burns on the ground.
Both Syrian and Russian forces visited the scene of the incident with the aim to retrieve the pilot’s remains.
Russia is supporting the Syrian government in Idlib where President Bashar Al-Assad’s forces are battling against the Al-Nusra Front.
Russian air force losses have been rare since it began its Syria campaign in September 2015.
Following Filipov’s death, the country has intensified their raids across the province.