A Russian military transport helicopter was shot down on Monday in the Syrian province of Idlib, killing the three crew members and two officers on board in the deadliest episode for the Russian military since it intervened in the country, Russian officials said.
The Mi-8 helicopter was hit by ground fire as it returned to Khmeimim Air Base from a mission to the embattled city of Aleppo, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
Video footage, posted on Facebook by antigovernment activists shortly before the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed the attack, showed two burned bodies on the sand, about 300 feet from what appeared to be a helicopter in flames.
In the video, a number of men, some of them armed, cheered around the bodies, shouting “God is great” in Arabic. One of them jumped on a body, joyfully.
A set of images, also released online, showed two Russian drivers’ licenses — one belonging to a young woman, another to a young man — and a laminated Orthodox icon of God. It was not possible to establish the names of the people pictured on the licenses.