MESOP TODAYS Syria Daily: Islamic State Downs Russian Helicopter

10 July 2016 – The Islamic State has shot down a Russian military helicopter in central Syria, killing the two pilots.The Mi-25 helicopter is the second Russian warplane downedsince Moscow’s aerial intervention last September. In November, Turkish fighter planes shot down a Russian MiG-24 as it briefly crossed Turkey’s territory en route to a bombing raid on Latakia in northwest Syria.

The Russian Defense Ministry said the Mi-25 helicopter was attacking ISIS positions near Palmyra in central Syria. The Ministry said the pilots “had used up all their ammunition and were on their way back when they came under the fire of terrorists and crashed in an area held by Syrian government troops”.The Interfax State news agency, citing a source in the Russian military, said ISIS used a US anti-tank guided missile system. The Islamic State did not give details of the weapon used, and there was no other support for the claim. The Syrian military and militia, enabled by Russian airstrikes, retook the historic city of Palmyra in late March. The Islamic State has continued to challenge pro-Assad forces near the city in eastern Homs Province, including fighting for control of oil and gas fields. Russia has officially acknowledged the loss of 10 military personnel since its intervention from last autumn, with thousands of airstrikes and “advisors” on the ground.