Syrian Air Force Su-22 goes down over Idlib – what we know, don't know so far
On Wednesday afternoon, a Syrian Air Force Su-22M3 fighter-bomber when down behind enemy lines in southern Idlib province whilst on a mission near the militant stronghold city of Khan Sheykhun.
It is still officially unknown if the aircraft was shot down by insurgent fire or if it suffered a technical malfunction and crashed.
Hayat Tahrir al-Sham was the terrorist group who announced the downing of the air force bomber, but did not exactly specify how it was downed; initially there were claims of shoulder-fired guided missile (MANPADS) usage but since then there has been counter claims by pro-militant sources that cannon fire from large caliber guns got lucky and struck the aircraft.
At this point it appears that the Syrian Air Force pilot who ejected has managed so far to evade being captured by militant groups who are undoubtedly combing the countryside around Khan Sheykhun and At-Tamanna.
The sun was already beginning to set at the time of the crash, so it appears the pilot was granted a promising head-start with the coming of nightfall and the many additional hours to move around with relative impunity that offers.
A final point worth mentioning is that the rumors of there being two pilots can be completely dismissed; the Su-22M3 is known for a fact to be a single-seat fighter bomber and the video evidence released by pro-militant media only shows one pilot’s helmet and one set of flight gear.