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Turkey to hand over Russian pilot’s body after Syria downing

Turkey says it has received the body of a Russian pilot killed after his plane was shot down on the Syrian border.

The body of Lt Col Oleg Peshkov will be given back to Russia, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said.

Turkish forces shot down the plane saying it had violated Turkish airspace, which Russia denies.

The incident has led to heated rhetoric between the two countries, with Russia announcing a package of economic sanctions against Turkey.

Rebels from Syria’s ethnic Turkmen community opened fire on Lt Col Peshkov and his co-pilot as they tried to parachute into government-held territory.

The rebels said he had died by the time he reached the ground.

Mr Davutoglu said the body had been received by Turkish authorities at the Syrian border but did not give any more details.

He said a Russian official would soon travel to the province of Hatay together with a Turkish military official and receive the body.

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Mr Davutoglu added that Lt Col Peshkov’s body had been treated in accordance with Orthodox Christian tradition.

Another pilot in the plane, Capt Konstantin Murakhtin, survived and was rescued from rebel-held territory in Syria in a special forces operation.

Capt Murakhtin said he wanted to go back to duty and stay in Syria, saying “someone has to pay” for his colleague’s death.

A decree signed by President Vladimir Putin on Saturday covers imports from Turkey, the work of Turkish companies in Russia and any Turkish nationals working for Russian companies.

The decree also calls for an end to charter flights between the countries.

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has refused to apologise to Russia over the incident.

On Friday, he accused Moscow of “playing with fire” in its Syria operations. But on Saturday, he said he was “saddened” by the downing of the jet.

Turkey and Russia have important economic links. Russia is Turkey’s second-largest trading partner, while more than three million Russian tourists visited Turkey last year.

Source: https://www.bbc.com

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