Updated: August 1, 2016 6:08:03 pm
A Russian Mi-8 transport helicopter was shot down in Syria’s Idlib province on Monday, killing 5 crew members onboard. The helicopter manufacturer’s website describes the chopper as one of the most popular Russian-made helicopter among its class. It has the capability to carry weapons and conduct search and rescue operations as well. It’s universality and high-flying capabilities make it a popular Russian-made helicopter, claims the manufacturer.
This is the third time when a Russian chopper crashed in Syria this year.
Here are some other instances where Russian helicopters have crashed in the past:
October 2015: An Mi-8 chopper was badly damaged and eventually destroyed by Islamic State fighters after it made an emergency landing in the middle of rescue operations to evacuate a co-pilot of a Su-24M fighter jet that was show down by a Turkish Air Force F-16 aircraft. Turkey on its part had said it shot down the Russian aircraft after it ignored repeated warnings and breached its airspace. Russian President Vladimir Putin termed the incident as a ‘stab in the back’ and warned of ‘serious consequences’ if Turkey did not apologise. Initially, Turkey said it won’t apologise, but later President Recep Tayyip Erdogan reportedly apologised to Russia, as cited by Kremlin.
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April 2016: Two Russian pilots were killed after their Mi-28 attack helicopter crashed while performing a flight near the Syrian city of Homs. The Russian Defence Ministry has maintained that it was a technical fault and that it wasn’t shot down by Syrian rebels. The bodies of the pilots were recovered and brought back to Russian Hymeimim air base. According to reports in the Washington Post, the chopper was an advanced gunship that had arrived in Syria in November last year, but was recently used quite extensively in combat operations.
July 2016: An Mi-25 attack helicopter was shot down near Syria’s historic city of Palmyra, killing two Russian pilots onboard. The aircraft had been deployed to take down advancing rebels and Islamic State militants at the request of the Syrian Army. The two pilots attacking IS positions had apparently ran out of ammunition and while it was turning back it was shot down by militants gunfire, according to Interfax. A video published by Islamic State’s Group’s Amaq agency showed a helicopter being shot and crashing amidst cried of “It’s fallen, God is Greatest”.
Russia began a massive campaign of airstrikes in Syria from October which were aimed at destroying rebels and Islamic State fighters. This marked the entry of Russia in Syria’s five-year-long civil war that has claimed more than 2,50,000 lives and displaced thousands. But the Western countries have maintained that Russia’s efforts were aimed at bolstering Syria President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.
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