Russian chopper shot dead in Syria’s Idlib province

Aug 01, 2016, 7:50 AM EDT
Russia's Mi-8 aircraft
(Source: Pavel Kazachkov/flickr)

The Russian defense ministry said that one of the country’s Mi-8 transport aircraft was shot down in Syria’s Idlib province on Monday. The helicopter, carrying five people, was on its way to back to Russia's main air base in the western province of Latakia after delivering humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo. The crash site is about 40km from rebel-held parts where opposition fighters have launched a major offensive to break a government siege.

It remained unclear which group downed the helicopter, writes the BBC. Pictures circulated on social media showed gunmen gathered at the crash site, with charred wreckage and bodies lying around.

Russia’s defense ministry said that two officers and three crew members were present in the helicopter when it was struck, notes Reuters. Russia, a close ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, has been assisting pro-government forces with air strikes on rebels.

This is the deadliest assault on the Russian military since it began its operations in Syria, reports Deutsche Welle. Recently, the U.S. and Russia agreed to share intelligence for coordinating air strikes in Syria amid renewed international push to bring warring sides back to negotiation tables.