July 09, 2016 22:58
Two Russian helicopter aviators killed in Syria (Part 2)
MOSCOW. July 9 (Interfax) - Two Russian military instructor pilots were killed on July 8 near Palmyra when the Syrian Mi-25 helicopters they were piloting was shot down by terrorists from ISIL (the terrorist group outlawed in Russia), the Russian Defense Ministry told Interfax on Saturday.
"On July 8, Russian military instructor pilots Ryafagat Khabibulin and Yevgeny Dolgin were testing a Syrian Mi-25 helicopter (export version of Mi-24 helicopter) equipped with an ammunition load in the Syrian province of Homs," according to the ministry.
The helicopter was taken down after it thwarted an advance of the terrorists, it said.
A large group of ISIL militants attacked positions of the Syrian government troops at the time and, having penetrated their defenses, began to rapidly advance into the area, creating a threat of high grounds being captured, the ministry said.
"There were no reserve units of the Syrian troops in place to deploy there and dispute the advance of the terrorists in this sector," it said.
"The crew received the request from the Syrian task force's commandment to open fire on the advancing terrorists. Captain Ryafagat Khabibulin made his decision to attack the terrorists. The advance of the terrorists was thwarted by the Russian crew's skillful actions," it said.
"Having run out of ammunition, the helicopter was shot down by terrorists from the ground when making a U-turn in order to take the back course. It crashed in the area controlled by the Syrian government army. The helicopter's crew was killed," it added.
"The Russian military pilots have been recommended for high state decorations posthumously," the Russian Defense Ministry said.
Thus, according to official information, 13 Russian servicemen have been killed since the start of the operation in Syria.
The Mi-25 attack / transport helicopter (an export version of the Mi-24D helicopter) was in mass production in the USSR in 1970s. In total, more than 600 units were manufactured. The helicopter is designed to destroy the adversary's armored equipment and also to be used in fire support of ground forces, landing operations, evacuation of the injured, and transportation of cargoes in its cargo department or with its external load sling system.
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