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Iran’s Major General Soleimani headed Russian pilot rescue team: Syrian officer

Commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Qassem Soleimani

The pilot of Russian Su-24 fighter jet recently downed by Turkey was saved during a joint rescue operation in Syria supervised by a senior Iranian commander, a Syrian officer says.

Commander of the Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) Major General Qassem Soleimani assembled a rescue team made up of 18 Syrian special forces members and six Hezbollah fighters for the operation, a Saturday report by the Sputnik news agency cited a Syrian officer as saying.

The unnamed Syrian officer said the team was tasked with rescuing the pilot while air and intelligence support was being provided by Russian forces.

According to a report published by the Fars News Agency, Russian fighter jets carried out airstrikes on the region to push militants away, which permitted the team to gain further access into the terrorist-held territory.

Apart from rescuing the pilot, the team also eliminated all terrorists active in the region, before returning safely with all members to their base of operations.

On Tuesday, Turkish Air Force shot down the Russian jet, accusing it of having violated Turkish airspace, an allegation Moscow has denied. One of the pilots was killed by militants in Syria after ejecting from the jet and the other was rescued.

Subsequently, the IRGC strongly dismissed rumors spread by Israeli media outlets that Soleimani had been killed.

“Often, the Israelis write down their dreams in the form of news and spread them through their media in the cyberspace,” the head of the IRGC’s Public Relations Office, Brigadier General Ramezan Sharif said. “The fake news about Major General Qassem Soleimani’s martyrdom is of this sort.”

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