A Russian Mi-24 helicopter crashed near Hmeimim airfield in Syria, killing both pilots, according to the defense ministry.
A technical malfunction was to blame for the crash, Interfax news service reported citing the Russian Ministry of Defense. The ministry further stressed 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 (9 miles) from the destination airfield,” in on December 31, Interfax quoted the ministry as saying.
One crew member, a flight engineer, survived and was treated for injuries.
Earlier, users on a Russian aviation forum reported the crash had occured on December 31, saying the helicopter had been tripped by electrical wires near the town of Zara in Hama governorate, a part of the Hama-Homs border that is controlled by Syrian rebels. According to the post, the enclave is located within the deescalation zone.
Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered a partial withdrawal of Russian troops from Syria on December 11. Moscow intervened in Syria’s civil war in September 2015 at the request of President Bashar al-Assad. As of October 2017, the Russian Armed Forces had confirmed 41 military fatalities, but the number of dead, including private contractors, is believed to be much higher.