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I don't fear Russia, says Turkish alleged killer of pilot

29 January 2016, 15:01

Istanbul - A Turkish citizen fighting in Syria who Moscow has accused of killing a Russian pilot said Friday he was not scared Russian forces are targeting him, after making an unexpected public appearance in Istanbul.

Alparslan Celik has been accused by Russia of killing in cold blood Russian pilot Oleg Peshkov as he parachuted to the ground after his plane was shot down by Turkish air forces on the Syrian border on November 24.

Turkish newspapers Thursday carried pictures of Celik attending the funeral in Istanbul's Fatih district this week of Ibrahim Kucuk, a Turkish nationalist local politician who was killed fighting with a Turkmen militia in Syria.

It was Celik's first appearance inside Turkey since the shooting down of the Russian Su-24 and Peshkov's killing caused an unprecedented crisis in relations between Ankara and Moscow.

"I went to (Syria) for Allah. Our souls were given to us by Allah. Only Allah can take what was given and it is with this belief that we are fighting," Celik told the Dogan news agency in an interview.

"I don't have any such fear (of being targeted by Russia). We will continue our struggle until the last drop of our blood flows," he added.

Celik, the son of a prominent local politician from the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), has since 2014 been fighting alongside Turkmen forces in Syria.

The Turkmen, one of majority Arab Syria's ethnic minorities, speak a language very similar to modern Turkish and are staunch allies of Ankara in fighting forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The Hurriyet daily quoted Celik as saying at the funeral in Istanbul that he went "in-and-out" of Syria and would be going there again.

Russia's ambassador to Ankara Andrei Karlov had in December directly accused Celik of shooting Peshkov.

Celik has never directly confirmed or denied the circumstances of the pilot's death.

Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova in December also urged Turkey to arrest Celik and his accomplices and "bring them to justice for the murder of the Russian pilot."

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