A Russian military helicopter has been shot down by Isis near Palmyra, Syria, killing both pilots. The men have been named as Ryafagat Khabibulin and Yevgeny Dolgin.
The Mi-25 aircraft was reportedly conducting a test flight in the area when it received a request for assistance from the Syrian military, who were under attack from a group of Isis militants to the east of Palmyra.
But after running out of ammunition, the helicopter was shot down, Russian news agency Sputnik reported.
A statement from the defence ministry said: “The crew received a request from the Syrian unit's command to strike the advancing fighters. The captain, Ryafagat Khabibulin, made a decision to attack the terrorists.
“The skillful actions of the Russian crew thwarted the terrorists' advance. When the helicopter's ammunition was spent and it changed its course to the opposite direction, it was shot down by terrorists from the ground and crashed in an area controlled by the Syrian government army.
“The helicopter's crew was killed.”
The total number of Russian fatalities in Syria is unknown. While Moscow has maintained only 10 soldiers have died, many journalists and analysts believe the real number is greater.
Russia, allied with the regime of Bashar al-Assad, has engaged in frequent air attacks in Syria, purportedly againt ‘terrorist’ targets.
But rights groups have criticised their air campaign and said about 2,000 civilians have also been killed in Russian bombardments, including those on markets, schools and hospitals.
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