HMEYMIM AIR BASE , Syria, Aug. 1 (UPI) -- Five Russian military personnel died after their helicopter was shot down over Idlib province, Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry said Monday.
"On August 1 a Russian transport helicopter Mi-8 was shot down with fire from the ground on the way to the Hmeymim air base, after delivering humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo. There were three crewmembers and two officers" aboard, the ministry statement said.
It is unknown who shot down the helicopter.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the crash occurred as the pilot attempted "to steer the machine to minimize the casualties on the ground," Russian state media reported.
The incident comes as heavy fighting continues in the Aleppo area, where Syrian government forces, aided by Russian airstrikes, are attempting a days-long siege of rebel strongholds. Up to 300,000 civilians are believed to be trapped within the city.