Helicopter pilots called in action by the Syrian allies were shot down by “IS” militants. The aircraft ran out of ammunition while flying near Palmyra.
Two Russian pilots were killed in Syria on Saturday when their helicopter was shot down by “Islamic State” (IS) militants, the Kremlin said. The men had been part of an attack on an IS target in the country’s central Homs province.
A statement from Russian news agency Interfax said the airmen had run out of ammunition, leaving them vulnerable to enemy attack.
“The turning helicopter was hit by militants’ gunfire from the ground and crashed in the area controlled by the Syrian government army. The crew died,” said the statement.
The Russian Defense Ministry elaborated by saying that the Russians had been running a test flight with a Syrian Mi-25 helicopter near Palmyra when Syrian officers called for help in a clash with IS fighters.
Footage posted online by the extremists also confirmed the deaths. The video shows the aircraft being shot and spiraling to the ground while shouts of “it has fallen, God is the greatest” can be heard in the background.
The Russian-Syrian military alliance has struggled to root out the jihadis from the center of the country since it reclaimed the ancient city of Palmyra in March. IS has repeatedly pushed back and announced its intentions to once again wrest the city from government control.
es/bk (AP, Reuters)