04:52 GMT25 June 2021
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    As many as 10,000 residents of the western Russian city of Lipetsk defied cold, snowy weather to attend the funeral of Oleg Peshkov, the airman who piloted the Russian Su-24 bomber that was shot down by Turkish fighter jets in Syria last week.

    Despite a mixture of snow and freezing rain, thousands of citizens of the city of Lipetsk in western Russia gathered to honor the memory of Oleg Peshkov, the pilot of the Russian Su-24 bomber that was downed by Turkish F-16 jets in Syria on November 24.

    Lipetsk is Peshkov's hometown, where he is survived by a wife, a 16-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son.

    Security was tight during the funeral, which was conducted at the Church of the Nativity of Christ and followed by a memorial service at the Regional Center of Culture and Folk Art. Thousands of attendees huddled outside carrying flowers in the snow; it was estimated by the local media source Gorod48.ru that as many as 10,000 people were in attendance.

    At the cemetery, the pilot's funeral procession met a military band and honor guard. Oleg Peshkov was buried in the Alley of Heroes, an honorary place reserved for those who have died in the line of duty.

    Earlier this week, the plane with the body of Oleg Peshkov landed at Chkalovsky Military Airfield outside Moscow.

    The plane was greeted by Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoigu and Victor Bondarev, head of the Russian Aerospace Forces. A silent drill team greeted the fallen pilot with military honors.

    The Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that "during the flight over Russian airspace the plane was accompanied by an escort of fighters."

    Victor Bondarev was in turn quoted by RIA Novosti as saying that Russia "will always follow his example of fulfilling his duty," and that "those who plotted and committed this betrayal will suffer the retribution they deserve."

    Last Tuesday, the Russian Su-24 bomber jet flown by Peshkov was shot down by an air-to-air missile fired by a Turkish F-16 over Syria; his plane fell 4 kilometers from the Turkish border. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Peshkov and a co-pilot managed to eject from the plane after being hit with the missile. Peshkov was shot dead in the air by machine gun fire from local militants led by a Turkish national while parachuting to the ground.


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