3 Jan 2018 13:57

Both pilots die as Russian Mi-24 helicopter crashes in Syria due to technical malfunction - Russian Defense Ministry

MOSCOW. Jan 3 (Interfax) - A Russian Mil Mi-24 combat helicopter crashed in Syria on December 31, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Wednesday, adding that the helicopter did not come under fire from the ground.

"A Russian Mi-24 helicopter crashed en route to the Hama airfield due to a technical malfunction. Both pilots died as the helicopter made a rough landing 15 kilometers from the destination airfield," it said.

According to the Defense Ministry, the flight engineer on board the helicopter sustained injuries in the accident and was urgently evacuated by a search and rescue team to the Hmeimim airfield, where he was provided with medical aid.

"The Mi-24 did not come under fire from the ground," it said.

Some news websites reported that the Mi-24 was escorting a convoy.

The Mi-24, informally known as "Crocodile", is an attack helicopter and is one of the most widely used helicopters in the world.

At least three incidents involving Russia combat helicopters in Syria were known previously.

A Mi-8 military-transport helicopter was shot down from the ground in Syria's Idlib governorate as it was returning to the Hmeimim airbase on August 1, 2016. Russia's Mi-28N "Night Hunter" helicopter crashed near the city of Homs in April 2016. A Mi-8 helicopter was attacked from the ground in November 2015 during a search operation for the crew of Russia's Sukhoi Su-24 combat aircraft shot down by the Turkish Air Force in Syria.

In a separate development, a Syrian Mi-25 helicopter operated by a Russian crew was brought down in July 2016 by militants using a U.S.-made anti-tank missile system.

The Russian military operation has been under way in Syria since September 30, 2015. Russia's air force has been providing support to Syrian government forces' ground operations against terrorist groups.