August 1, 2016
By Lisa Barrington and Dmitry Solovyov
BEIRUT/MOSCOW (Reuters) – A Russian military helicopter was shot down in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib province on Monday killing all five people on board, in the biggest officially acknowledged loss of life for Russian forces since they started operations in Syria.
Images on social media purportedly taken at the scene of the crash showed a dead body stripped of clothing being dragged through the dirt near the wreckage. Russian identity documents purportedly taken from the helicopter could also be seen.
Russia’s defence ministry said the Mi-8 military transport helicopter had been shot down after delivering humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo as it made its way back to Russia’s main air base in the western province of Latakia.
“As far as we know from the information that has reached the defence ministry, those on board died, they died heroically,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a conference call with reporters.
The helicopter came down near the town of Saraqeb, in Idlib province, roughly mid-way between Aleppo and the Russian air force base at Khmeimim, near the Mediterranean coast.