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Russian helicopter crashes in Syria, two pilots killed

By Ed Adamczyk
Russian helicopter crashes in Syria, two pilots killed
A Russian Mil Mi-28N helicopter crashed in Homs, Syria, killing the two crewmembers aboard. Photo by Artem Katranzhi/Wikipedia

HOMS, Syria, April 12 (UPI) -- Two pilots were killed in the crash of a Russian helicopter in Homs, Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry announced Tuesday.

The Mil Mi-28N strike helicopter "did not come under fire," a ministry statement said, adding that the bodies of the two crew members were taken to Russia's Khmeimim air base near the Syrian port city of Latakia, and a team of investigators was sent to the site of the crash.

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An unidentified military source said the pilots were flying at night and wearing night-vision goggles over unfamiliar terrain and may have struck an obstacle, the German news agency DW.com said, citing Russia's Interfax news agency.

The helicopter was of the type used in a Syrian government operation last month to force Islamic State militants from the ancient city of Palmyra, and the incident is the third acknowledged loss of a Russian aircraft in Syria.

A total of seven Russian military personnel have died in combat operations in Syria.

The incident comes less than a month after Russia ordered the removal of most of its forces from Syria after a nearly six-month-long bombing campaign. Most of Russia's fixed-wing aircraft have left Syria, but Russia has continued to use helicopters to ship military supplies to the Syrian government army.

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