MOSCOW, Russia – A Russian Mi-8 helicopter has been shot down by ground fire in Syria, Russian Defense Ministry said. Three crew and two officers from Russia’s Reconciliation Center died, according to a Kremlin statement.
“On August 1, an Mi-8 transport helicopter has been shot down by ground fire in Idlib. Three crew members and two officers from the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria were on board,” the Defense Ministry said in a statement.
The helicopter was returning to the Russian air base at Khmeimim, the statement added. The ministry has not yet revealed identities of those on board.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov confirmed in a statement later in the day that all those on board are dead.
Those on board the helicopter were killed, as we learned from the Defense Ministry’s report. They died heroically as [the crew] tried to divert the helicopter to minimize casualties on the ground,” Peskov said.
“The Kremlin conveys its deep condolences to the families of those killed in action,” he added.
Shortly after the crash, a number of on-the-spot videos have emerged online, allegedly showing helicopter debris, including a tail rotor and parts of the fuselage.
It is the third Russian helicopter lost in action in Syria this year. In July, an Mi-25 attack chopper was shot down near Palmyra, killing two Russian pilots.
In April, an Mi-28N attack helicopter crashed while performing a flight near the city of Homs, with the Defense Ministry stressing it was not shot down. The crash left both pilots dead, with technical failure cited by Moscow as the likely cause of the accident.
Last October, another Mi-8 helicopter was badly damaged and then destroyed by IS fighters after an emergency landing in the middle of search and rescue operation to extract a surviving co-pilot of a Su-24M bomber jet shot which was down by a Turkish Air Force F-16.