Russian and Syrian special forces have rescued the second pilot of a Russian warplane shot down by Turkey and he is now at a Russian air base in Syria, the defence minister said Wednesday.

“The operation ended successfully. The second pilot has been brought to our base. He is alive and well,” Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said.

“I would like to thank all our guys who worked at great risk all night and finished this job at around 3:40 am (0040 GMT),” Shoigu said in televised comments.

President Vladimir Putin later confirmed the second pilot was “saved” and “he and the other participants… including in the rescue operation will be awarded state honours.”

The plane’s other pilot who died as he was fired at from the ground will posthumously be given Russia’s highest award for valour, the Hero of Russia medal, Putin said.

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