Fighter plane
© Russian Defense Ministry
The Russian Ministry of Defense stated that the country's air forces conducted a group strike of the area controlled by Jabhat Fatah al-Sham militants in Idlib, from where a projectile was fired downing Russian Su-25 aircraft.

The Russian Ministry of Defense revealed the preliminary information on the incident, saying that the aircraft might be shot down with the help of a man-portable air defense system. The pilot survived the crash, but was killed during a fight with terrorists.

"The plane was flying over the Idlib de-escalation zone," the military stated.

The Defense Ministry revealed that according to preliminary information as to the possible cause of the downing, the plane may have been shot down by a man-portable air-defense system (MANPAD).

The Russian Defense Ministry stated that the pilot managed to eject from the aircraft and survive, but was killed during a subsequent battle with terrorists.

"The pilot reported on a bailout in an area controlled by rebels Jabhat Fatah al-Sham [previously known as al-Nusra Front]. When conducting a fight with terrorists, the pilot died," the Defense Ministry said.

Comment: Update (Feb. 4): RT adds some detail to the pilot's heroic death:
The pilot of the Russian Su-25 jet shot down over Syria reportedly died fighting as his weapon was found with an empty magazine. He was being considered for a state award, documents found on his person apparently reveal.

The Russian airman killed by militants in the Al-Nusra-controlled area in Idlib province Saturday was identified as Major Roman Filippov, photos posted on the Telegram channel of independent investigative group Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) indicate.

Earlier, the Russian Defense ministry confirmed that the pilot died "during combat with terrorists."

One of the pictures, published on the CIT Facebook page, shows what appears to be a commendation authored by special operations air group commander Lt. Colonel Sergey Aksenov, recommending that a state award be bestowed upon Filippov for completing combat missions in Syria. CIT claims the document was found in the slain pilot's pocket.

Another photo shows the gun Filippov apparently used to fight for his life. A Stechkin machine pistol (APS), standard issue for Russian combat pilots, is seen next to three magazines, one of them empty and two half-empty.

The article includes a video of 'rebels' posing with the dead body of the pilot.

According to the ministry, Russia and Turkey, peace guarantor in Syria's Idlib de-escalation zone, are taking all possible efforts to return the body of the killed pilot.

During the two-years long military operation in Syria, Russia lost four aircraft and four helicopters. According to Russian Defense Minister Yury Borisov, the country's air forces modernized Su-25SM ground attack aircraft are being used in Syria.

The Su-25 attack aircraft is designed to destroy small-size mobile and fixed ground objects, as well as low-speed air targets.

The conflict took place on the territory controlled by the Jabhat Fatah al-Sham terror group amid the ongoing military operation against them conducted by the Syrian forces.

Among various terror groups operating in the area, there is also Hay'at Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), an umbrella terrorist group spearheaded this year by the former Al-Nusra Front. While some countries such as the United States have flagged HTS as a terrorist group, Russian officials continue to refer to the Salafist jihadist terrorist organization by its old Al-Nusra moniker. Al-Nusra was the official Syrian branch of al-Qaeda until 2016, when it ostensibly split from the world's most well-known terrorist network.