A Syrian pilot whose plane crashed in Turkey has said in an initial statement that his aircraft was shot down on its way to strike rural areas in northern Syria, Turkey's state-run Anadolu news agency reported on March 5.
The Syrian Air Force pilot, who ejected from his plane before the crash, is being treated at a hospital in the Hatay region.
The 56-year-old pilot -- identified as Mehmet Sufhan -- said in his statement to Turkish authorities that his MiG-23 had taken off from Latakia in Syria.
A Syrian Army source quoted by state TV on March 4 had said the Air Force had lost contact with a fighter jet on a mission near the border.
Islamist rebel group Ahrar al-Sham had claimed responsibility for shooting down the plane.
But the British-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said it was not yet clear if the crash was due to a technical issue or if the plane had been shot down.
Turkey and the United States support the main opposition forces fighting the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in a seven-year civil war, while Russia backs Assad's government.
Pilot Of Syrian Warplane That Crashed Found Injured In Turkey: Report