Syrian Turkmen Lament Death of Russian Pilot, Rely on Russia's Support
March 7, 2016 - 16:57 updated 19:27
One community leader among the Turkmen, an ethnic minority in northern Syria, has expressed regret over the death of a Russian pilot on their soil; however, he also voiced hope that Russia will help maintain peace and contain Turkey's aggression in Syria, according to RIA Novosti.
The Turkmen people are sorry about the death of a Russian pilot in Syria and they hope for Russia's help in maintaining peace and fighting Turkey's aggression in Syria, Mustafa Kafe, mayor of the Syrian village of Al-Issawiyah, was quoted by RIA Novosti as saying; most of villagers are known to be members of Syria's Turkmen ethnic minority.
Kafe's remarks came after about five metric tons of Russian-Syrian humanitarian aid was delivered to his village and a field hospital was deployed there; the village is located 20 kilometers from the country's border with Turkey.
"I am grateful to the Russian Federation for the help we receive, and for the truth that [Russia] presents to the entire world. We have always lived peacefully and quietly, and maintained good neighborly relations with all neighboring nations," Kafe said.
He added that locals are up in arms about the aggressive policy being pursued by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
"We are all Turkmen, but we are the people of Syria and want to continue to live in peace and accord. We are against Erdogan's aggression and we do not want to help him, he is a very bad man," he said.
He also expressed condolences over the death of a Russian pilot, who was killed by suspected Turkmen militants as he parachuted from his Su-24 bomber after it was shot down by a Turkish warplane on November 24, 2015.
"Our land has become sacred, because it witnessed the great feat-of-arms of one of the Russian pilots who defended our lands and was killed by the Turkish side. We extend our condolences to Russia and bemoan the fact that his blood was spilled on our territory," Kafe said.
According to him, the Turkmens are opposed to terrorism and will continue to fight it to the end, with the support of government troops and Syrian President Bashar Assad.
Kafe was echoed by many locals, including 76-year-old Mahman-Maruan Zaza, who expressed gratitude to Russia for its assistance and signaled their readiness to continue the fight against terrorism.
"We, the Syrians, shed blood against Erdogan and our blood will be fuel for the liberation of our country from what was happening to it. We sincerely thank President Putin for supporting Syria and its people," he said.
Syria has been mired in a civil war since 2011, with forces loyal to President Bashar Assad fighting a number of opposition factions and extremist groups, including Daesh (ISIL/ISIS) and the al-Qaeda-linked al-Nusra Front, which have been condemned as terrorist organizations by many countries, including Russia.
In February 2015, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2268, endorsing the Russia-US agreement on the cessation of hostilities in Syria, shortly before the ceasefire came into force on February 27.
The cessation of hostilities does not apply to designated terrorist organizations operating in Syria, including Daesh and the Al-Nusra Front.
Adding to the Syrian Army's anti-terror effort is Russia's ongoing air campaign which was launched on September 30, when more than fifty Russian warplanes, including Su-24M, Su-25 and Su-34 jets, commenced precision airstrikes on Daesh and Al-Nusra Front targets in Syria at the behest of President Assad.