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Tens of thousands mourn Russian pilot killed in Syria

Russian officers carry a coffin with the body of Russian pilot Roman Filipov during a funeral service in Voronezh, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018. The Su-25 jet pilot ejected after Syrian insurgents shot down his plane, then he traded fire with militants on the ground and blew himself up to avoid being captured.

VADIM SAVITSKY/POOL PHOTO VIA AP

By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: February 8, 2018

MOSCOW — Tens of thousands of Russians have attended a mourning ceremony for a Russian pilot who blew himself up to avoid being captured by the militants in Syria who downed his plane.

Maj. Roman Filipov bailed out successfully Saturday from the burning plane over Syria's northern Idlib province, but was surrounded by al-Qaida-linked militants when he landed. The Russian Defense Ministry said he engaged in a gun battle with the militants and then blew himself up with a hand grenade when they came close.

President Vladimir Putin has posthumously awarded Filipov with the nation's highest medal, the Hero of Russia.

Filipov's body has been repatriated to Russia. Over 30,000 people in the southwestern city of Voronezh attended Thursday's funeral ceremony for the pilot who was married with a four-year old daughter.

Russian honorary guards stand next to a coffin with the body of Russian Roman Filipov during a funeral service in Voronezh, Russia, Thursday, Feb. 8, 2018.
VADIM SAVITSKY/POOL PHOTO VIA AP

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