Russian helicopter shot down over Syria

Monday, August 1, 2016

Russia acknowledged one of their military helicopters was shot down today over Syria, killing the entire complement of five people aboard.

An Mi-8 helicopter - the type shot down.
Image: Aleksandr Markin.

This is the largest loss of Russian personnel Russia has officially recognized in their Syrian operations since those operations began last September. These operations have been ongoing in support of Syria's president Bashar al-Assad against rebels in the Syrian Civil War which has so far lasted five years.

Russian officials have said the helicopter had just delivered humanitarian aid to Aleppo and was returning to Russia's main airbase in Latakia. Aleppo has been besieged since rebel-held areas in the Eastern part of the city were cut off by government forces last month.

The helicopter was shot down over the province of Idlib, where the dominant power is an alliance of rebel forces, including jihadist factions. The Islamic State is reportedly not known to be active there.

Russia's involvement in Syria has been controversial, and the West have said it is aiding a brutal crackdown by the Assad regime. According to Russian President Vladmir Putin, the target of the Russian campaign is Islamist terrorism.