A Russian helicopter was shot down just outside the city of Aleppo, Syria after delivering aid and supplies to the war-torn city. All five people on board were killed. The Mi-8 helicopter was shot down by ground fire in territory that is currently claimed by the terrorist group Al-Nusra Front, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The helicopter was returning to the Russian air base at Khmeimim at the time of the attack. The victims consisted of three crew members and two officers from Russia’s Reconciliation Center. Shortly following the crash rebel forces pulled the pilot from the wreckage and dragged his body through the dirt.
The downing of this Russian helicopter is just one of many attacks on aircraft in the last two months and the death of this pilot marks the third Russian pilot killed in Syria this month. The downing of the Russian Mi-8 coupled with the Syrian Army has losing several aircraft over the last two months has led many to believe that militants may have recently received new anti-aircraft weapons. Freelance journalist Alaa Ibrahim commented on the possibility of terrorist organizations obtaining new land-air rockets. He told RT:
“I’ve heard some local sources where the [Russian] helicopter was downed speaking of the possibility of MANPADs – shoulder-mounted surface-to-air missiles – being used in that context,”
Video footage of the aftermath has been released and can be seen below:
Arming rebel forces with surface-to-air missiles effectively nullifies the Syrian Army’s air-based superiority over terrorist organizations. The acquisition of these new weapons would also explain the rebels arrogant and disturbing treatment of the bodies after the crash. The rebels confidently celebrated their disturbing attack on a humanitarian mission by ripping the pilot from the wreckage and dragging him through the dirt. Other spectators were reportedly jumping on the bodies of the other passengers and could be hear shouting “Allahu Akbar” or “god is great” in Arabic.