Iranian journalist and political analyst Emad Abshenas talked to a friend of his, a Syrian officer, who is currently in Latakia, and has all the details on the ground team that extracted Konstantin Murahtin.
Soleimani, according to the expert, assembled a rescue team made up of 18 Syrian special operation forces and six Hezbollah fighters with firsthand knowledge of the terrain. They were tasked with saving the pilot, while Russian forces provided air and intelligence support.
The joint team was receiving extremely detailed intelligence information on everything surrounding them, even the movement of ants located hundreds of meters away, Emad Abshenas noted, citing the Syrian officer. In addition to saving Konstantin Murahtin, they also eliminated all terrorists in the area.
The timing of the operation was perfect but luck played a certain part in its success.
The Syrian officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, explained that Turkey and the Turkmen could not agree on what to do with the pilot. The former wanted to take him as prisoner and later use him as a bargaining chip in talks with Russia. The rebels insisted that he should be treated like the Jordanian pilot captured by ISIL in late 2014 and burned to death several days later.
This bickering gave the team enough time to save the Russian pilot.
The Kremlin, according to the analyst, received all the latest updates on the rescue operation as the events unfolded. Russian President Vladimir Putin is said to have been closely following the action via satellite transmission.
On Tuesday, a Turkish F-16 shot down the Su-24, claiming that the aircraft had violated its airspace. Russian officials and the Su-24 pilot, who survived the crash, insist that the plane did not cross into Turkey. The crew, according to the pilot, did not receive any warning prior to the attack.
The Su-24 downing as well as the missile attack on Russian journalists in Latakia appear to confirm what many have assumed – moderate opposition groups are simply nonexistent in Syria, Emad Abshenas noted.