A Russian helicopter crashed in Syria on New Year’s Eve killing both pilots following a technical fault, Moscow’s defense ministry said Wednesday.
The Mi-24 military helicopter was flying to Hama, northwestern Syria, and there was no firing from the ground, agencies quote the ministry as saying.
“Both pilots died in a hard landing 15 km (nine miles) from the air base,” the ministry said, adding that a technician had been injured and taken to another air base at for emergency treatment.
The investigative blog Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) quoted a post from Forumavia aviation forum saying the helicopter had tripped over power line wires and crashed while escorting a convoy.
The post did not specify whether the helicopter was escorting a humanitarian convoy or combat unit and the defense ministry did not give any further details.
Russia became involved in the multi-front conflict in September 2015, when it began an aerial campaign in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s military.
Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu last month said the military had completed the partial withdrawal from Syria ordered by President Vladimir Putin, but Russia will maintain a presence in the country, including three battalions and two bases.
Moscow acknowledged in recent months that its special forces are also active on the ground in the offensive against ISIS.