A Russian helicopter was shot down in northern Syria Monday, killing all five crew members on board, Russia’s state-controlled media said.
It is the deadliest attack on Russians in Syria since Russia last year launched airstrikes on rebels to help Syrian President Bashar Assad in the country’s civil war.
Russian media said the Mi-8 chopper went down while delivering aid in Aleppo, where rebels have been fending off government airstrikes. Three crew members and two officers died.
“Those who were aboard the helicopter, according to information from the Defense Ministry, have died heroically because they were attempting to steer the machine to minimize the casualties on the ground,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
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Syrian rebels posted footage online claiming to show the fiery wreckage in the moments after the crash.
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This is the deadliest attacks on Russians in Syria since Russia started airstrikes in the civil war. (AP)
The Kremlin did not say who is believed to have shot down the chopper, and no one claimed responsibility for the attack.
ISIS and anti-government rebels in or near Syria killed several Russians last year. In July, two Russian pilots died when ISIS shot down their helicopter in Palmyra. A fighter pilot died in November when rebels attacked his aircraft in Turkey near the Syrian border; a marine sent to rescue the pilot was also killed when his helicopter was shot down.