A Russian Sukhoi-25 ground-attack aircraft has been shot down in Syria's north-western province of Idlib.

The Russian defence ministry said the pilot was operating over the town of Maasran in Idlib when he ejected into the rebel-held area believed to be controlled by the jihadist Hayat Tahrir al-Sham alliance.

Video posted on social media showed the close-support ground-attack aircraft as it was hit. The plane caught fire before it spiralled to the ground and crashed. The footage showed the plane wreckage with red stars on the wings.

Russia's defence ministry said the pilot ejected and survived the crash but was killed in a ground fight with rebels.

"The pilot had enough time to report that he had ejected in an area controlled by the militants. During a battle with terrorists, the pilot was killed."

Hayat Tahrir al-Sham - formerly linked to al-Qaeda - has claimed responsibility for shooting down the plane using a shoulder-launched surface-to-air missile.

According to the BBC, the defence ministry said it was making all possible efforts to retrieve the slain pilot's body.

The Syrian government, backed by Russian air power, launched a major offensive in December against rebel groups in Idlib.

There had been dozens of Russian air strikes in the area over the previous 24 hours, monitoring groups said.