World

DAMASCUS (Web Desk) – Two Russian military pilots died after their helicopter crashed near the central Syrian city of Homs on Tuesday.

The aircraft, an M-28H attack helicopter, was not shot at, Russia’s defence ministry confirmed.

The crash happened in the early hours of Tuesday, the ministry said. The bodies were recovered and brought to Russia’s Hmeimim air base.

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The Mil Mi-28N Night Hunter is an all-weather, day-night, two-seater anti-armor attack helicopter armed with 30mm cannon, guided and unguided missiles. It has outstanding night combat capabilities, allowing it to strike several targets simultaneously.

The incident in Syria is the third of its kind in the Mi-28N’s performance history.

On August 2, 2015, a Mi-28N helicopter belonging to the Berkuty (Golden Eagles) aerobatic team performing at the Aviamix air show near Ryazan, Russia, went into flat-attitude spin and crash-landed in a forest next to the airfield, bursting into flames on impact with the ground. One of the two pilots died in the incident.

Russia joined the Syrian conflict in September, launching air strikes in support of President Bashar al-Assad.

A “cessation of hostilities” came into force in February including the Syrian government and nearly 100 rebel factions, but not the so-called Islamic State (IS).

Russia withdrew most of its forces from Syria but officials said in March they would continue air strikes.

More than 250,000 Syrians have been killed in nearly five years of civil war. Millions more have been displaced.