In a recent TV report, Syrian sculptor Iyad Bilal is seen putting the finishing touches on a larger-than-life bust of Russian pilot Oleg Peshkov, killed when his plane was shot down by the Turkish airforce in November. According the report, which aired on Syrian News TV on February 15, the artist created the sculpture "as a cultural message conveying gratitude and appreciation for standing by the Syrian people in the fight against terrorism."
Reporter: "As a cultural message conveying gratitude and appreciation to the Russian leadership and people for standing by the Syrian people in the fight against terrorism, and in honor of the family of Russian pilot Oleg Peshkov the Syrian sculptor Iyad Bilal created this bust commemorating pilot Peshkov, who was martyred after his SU-24 bomber was shot down over Syria, in November 2015."
Iyad Bilal: "The pilot was killed after his airplane was shot down by Turkey. This pilot was fighting terrorism in Syria. This is how we see it. This incident was outstanding. This person was outstanding. The circumstances were outstanding. The purpose for which this plane was downed was outstanding, especially since Turkey is [hostile] towards Syria. So I just had to record this cultural response, because I know that culture plays a role in this war."
Reporter: "These are the Syrians: They never forget those who help them. The message of the sculptor Iyad Bilal is an excellent example for this."