Saudi-owned news agency Al Arabiya are touting a massive leak of Syrian intelligence documents, and their first leak alleges to show Russia was the one who ordered Syria take down the Turkish fighter jet in June, and for Syria to kill and dispose of the pilots.
Syria shot down a Turkish F-4 Phantom in June, seemingly at random. Initial reports said the two pilots were recovered and in good health, but they never turned up. The plane was recovered in international waters, but the pilots weren't discovered until a few days later. Assad apologized for shooting down the plane and offering that he thought it was an Israeli jet as an excuse.
But according to Al Arabiya's leaked intelligence documents they received from Syrian rebels, that's not the whole story. Damascus' official intelligence documents allege Syria, working with Russia's naval base in Syria, shot down the fighter jet and Syrian Air Force officials recovered the pilots. Assad ordered the pilots be taken in as war prisoners and questioned over Turkey's role in helping the Free Syrian Army. But Russia intervened:
A subsequently leaked file, also sent from the presidential palace and addressed to all heads of units of the Syrian foreign intelligence, reads: “Based on information and guidance from the Russian leadership comes a need to eliminate the two Turkish pilots detained by the Special Operations Unit in a natural way and their bodies need to be returned to the crash site in international waters.”
Syria was also ordered to threaten Turkey with mobilizing the Kurdistan’s Workers Party on Turkey's borders if they thought about responding to the downed fighter jet. Russia ordered Assad apologize to try and court public opinion, but his idea of claiming he thought it was Israeli jet didn't really do that.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.