A Russian helicopter made an emergency landing near Syria’s Palmyra city on Thursday but the crew returned safely to the Hmeimim air base, Russian news agencies quoted Russia’s defense ministry as saying.
Other reports included one from Amaq, a news agency affiliated with Islamic State, saying a Russian military helicopter had been destroyed by rocket fire in Huwaysis, a rural area east of Homs province in central Syria.
Huwaysis is more than 200 km (120 miles) from Hmeimim, a Russian air base southeast of the city of Latakia, on the northeastern coast of Syria.
Syrian state news agency SANA cited the Russian defense ministry as saying one of its helicopters and its crew had come under fire near the ancient city of Palmyra.
Interfax news agency quoted a Russian defense ministry official in Syria saying: “The helicopter sustained damage which prevented it from returning to the home air base. The crew was not hurt and was swiftly returned to Hmeimim air base by a search-and-rescue helicopter.”
The official said the helicopter was delivering humanitarian aid some 40 km northwest of Palmyra, also known as Tadmur.
Huwaysis is near Palmyra, from where Islamic State was expelled by Syrian government and its allies’ forces in March.
However, this is not the first time Russian helicopters are shot in Syria.
On 31. July, another helicopter was shot down in the rebel-held Idlib province and had three crew members and two officers on board, who were all killed.
Photos showing the burning wreck of the downed helicopter were circulated on social media, while there is conflicting news about the fate of the helicopter’s crew.
“There are [on the images] lots of people standing around this wreckage and the body of a man being dragged away with various bits of documentation and ID being displayed,” a journalist said.
“The signs were there that this would be something very sorry the Russian government would want to admit to.”
Russia’s defense ministry was cited as saying that the helicopter, a 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 Syria.
“There were three crew members and two officers from the Russian reconciliation center in Syria on board,” the ministry said in a statement.
The incident was the deadliest single attack on Russian forces in Syria since Moscow began its intervention in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s government last September.
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