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Verifying Video of a Dead Russian Pilot in Syria

November 24, 2015

By Eliot Higgins

Following multiple reports of a Russian aircraft shot down by the Turkish air force images and video of what is claimed to be one of the Russian pilots has been shared online. The graphic video is available here, and by examining the video and photographs it is possible to see various details that confirms this is a Russian pilot, indicating the video is genuine.

For example, in photographs of Russian pilots in Latakia it’s clear there are various matches between what those pilots are wearing, and what the pilot featured in the new video is wearing. For example, the orange straps and blue bags are clearly visible on the pilot:

Match 1

Distinct straps visible on the pilot in the video are also visible:

Match 2

A patch is also visible in both the video and photographs of Russian pilots in Latakia that appears to be identical:

Match 3

In a photograph of the pilot (graphic) it’s clear the arrangement of pouches on the vest he’s wearing matches that of pilots at Latakia airbase:

Match 4

Based on the above matches it is possible to confirm that the pilot featured in the video is one of the pilots of the aircraft shot down by Turkey today.

Update In addition to more videos of the pilot’s corpse, a photograph of the pilot was posted online which included his helmet, which matches the helmet worn by Russian pilots photographed in Latakia

Russian Helmet
Eliot Higgins

Eliot Higgins is the founder of Bellingcat and the Brown Moses Blog. Eliot focuses on the weapons used in the conflict in Syria, and open source investigation tools and techniques.

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  1. boggled

    Mr Higgins, a few figures for you and Michael to discuss

    A little dated figures, but still they are relevant.
    Probably are still 4 million illegal guns floating around England, but the ammo is more of the difficult item, but hey, if you can get Cuban cigars, you can get almost anything.
    And with the RF organized crime families there, I am sure when vova wants an attack there, he will supply his ‘friends’.

    We saw he had no problem, or reservations, about getting Polonium into London and threatening millions water supply etc.
    And how has UK reacted?
    Oh those UK politicians like Corbyn have their hand deep in vova’s pocket and real estate dealings.
    RF and Europe’s elite, hmm, you know better then I.

    You are welcome to delete this comment after you read it, but thought you might enjoy the graphs and figures.

    One quote I found interesting – ‘The top 100 countries for homicide do not include the U.S. The top ten countries all have near or total firearm bans.’


    Fare thee well

  2. John Zenwirt

    The Putin-War never lets up;

    “Turkey furious at rocket-brandishing on Russian naval ship passing Istanbul”

    “Turkey accused Russia of “provocation” on Sunday after a serviceman on the deck of a Russian naval ship allegedly held a rocket launcher on his shoulder while the vessel passed through Istanbul.” (SMH)

    This is typical of what real, fake-o, Tin-Pot Dictatorships like vova’s do.

    A scared little man, brandishing a little, probably non-functional, tiny missile…

    • stranger

      I can imagine that… a poor guy was sent to the upper deck with Igla (anti-aircraft missile) on duty to watch for Turkish F16s 🙂

      • boggled

        Although that is a typical use of the Igla, it can also be used for targeting a small Turkish inspectors boat or vehicles as well if they chose.
        Kind of multifunctional if chose to be.
        And if I was Turkish inspectors, I would be upset also at this show of force and threatening posture of escalation instead of discussion.

        Fare thee well

        • stranger

          After the shot down plane accident they have a right to protect the ship. They didn’t violate anything, did they?

  3. John Zenwirt

    “…Russian naval ship…”

    One assumes a “Naval” USSR ship means part of the Black Sea Fleet; (a militarized combat ship).

    Are not “naval” vesssels equipped with far more serious & deadly missiles than an Igla…?

    They could put the ship on full combat stations, without showing too much.

    Instead, this deliberate use of a small missile on deck is a needless, foolish provocation…

  4. John Zenwirt

    In USSR news;

    “Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu said submarines have launched missiles.”

    “Putin raised the prospect of launching nuclear missiles on ISIS.”

    “Russian president said he ‘hoped’ nuclear weapons wouldn’t be needed.” (The Daily Mail)

  5. John Zenwirt

    “The International Community Informnapalm volunteers collected data on officers, pilots and navigators, the Russian aerospace forces that may be involved in the deaths of over 1380 civilians including 332 children. They are the victims of Russian aviation strikes since Moscow began airstrikes in Syria.”

    “During the investigation and the collection of information available on the various sources of open source, after analyzing videos of Russian propaganda and publications in the Russian media, volunteer Informnapalm investigators identified 32 officers doing part 20 flight crews of the Russian aerospace forces seen during their military missions in Syria.”

    “The publication of personal data of those Russian officers is our response to terrorism and occupation committed by Russian forces in Syria and Ukraine.”

    “No war crime should go unpunished.” (InformNapalm)

    (GoogleTranslate from French)


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