Not returned from Aleppo: why was a Russian helicopter shot down in Syria

The Mi-8 helicopter shot down in Syria on Monday, August 1, according to an official statement of the Ministry of defense of Russia, was returning to the base Hamim “after the delivery of humanitarian aid in Aleppo city”. According to military officials, the aircraft crashed “as a result of shelling from the ground”. Later, the press Secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov confirmed the information about the downed Mi-8, but also reported that everyone who was in the helicopter with three crew members and two officers of the Russian center for reconciliation, died. This Peskov said that accurate information on the number of victims there.

According to the newspaper “Газета.Ru” the commander of the crew of a downed Mi-8 was 33-year-old captain Roman Pavlov. With him died the pilot-Navigator Oleg Shalamov and borteknik Alexey Shorohov.

Was there protection

Close to the Syrian opposition STEP news Agency published a video from the scene of the helicopter crash a few hours after the accident. The publication shows the tail number of the downed helicopter — RF-95585. According to the register this Russian aircraft hull number assigned to the Mi-8AMTSH helicopter. The hull was marked with a number 212.

A helicopter with the same number in June 2016 hit the video Agency ANNA-News. In the video the helicopter picks Syrian girl Sidra who was injured during shelling in Aleppo.

After studying pictures of the helicopter with tail number RF-95585, a group of independent investigators armed conflict Conflict Intelligence Team (CIT) concluded that the vessel was set aviation complex individual defense “Vitebsk”. The complex produces around helicopter electronic dome and protect all that falls under this dome.

The representative of “Concern radio-Electronic technologies, who designed the complex, could not confirm the presence of “Vitebsk” in Syria shot down the Mi-8AMTSH. However, according to military analyst Anton Lavrov, this complex is installed on all new modification of the helicopter.

Despite the presence of “Vitebsk”, the helicopter could have been hit by machine gun fire or small caliber anti-aircraft guns, said a military expert Vasily Kashin. “Even if at the Mi-8AMTSH fired from a portable anti-aircraft missile system, which protects “Vitebsk”, the rocket could go,” — said the expert.

In addition, note the experts interviewed in the course of the flight, the crew shuts down the system for protection. “He’s usually working on takeoff and landing, when the helicopter is vulnerable to the maximum”, — says Lavrov.

Over the past few weeks the number of aircraft shot down Syrian aircraft increased, the expert said. Lavrov says that it is connected with the delivery of the Islamists and the rebels man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). The expert drew attention to the fact that the war in Syria, the military lacks the full picture. “We cannot rule out the ambush on the road or flying over enemy enemy group” — says the analyst.


According to the published from the event photos, the helicopter was carrying containers unguided rockets (nurs). As claimed by the interviewed experts, it was necessary for the defence of a helicopter, not to participate in offensive actions.

Eyewitnesses posted in social networks video, which shows the containers Nursi.

According to a military pilot, who wished to remain anonymous, the crews of Mi-8, carrying flights into a combat zone, constantly use the weapons. “The fact that he is carrying a humanitarian mission doesn’t mean he can’t defend himself,” explains the pilot.

According to Lavrov, the crew often does not remove the containers to save time. “If it is a single operation, then there is no need to remove Nursi”, — the expert explains.

Humanitarian objectives

The helicopter was shot down in Idlib province, near the village of tel-Sultan. The area of the crash is on the way from Aleppo to Latakia where the Russian base Hamim.

According to the chief of the Main operations Directorate of the General staff of the Armed forces of Russia Sergey Rudskoy, the Eastern border of Idlib province is under the control of the terrorist group “Dzhebhat EN-Nusra” (banned in Russia). This is evidenced by the map of the Ministry of defense, demonstrated in October 2015.

“It was assumed that the helicopter was returning from a humanitarian mission, will fly the protected route, but apparently it was a subversive group of the enemy with MANPADS,” says military expert Konstantin Sivkov. In his opinion, in such conditions you should use attack helicopters escort who will be deployed on the route and cover the basic helicopter.

The start of the humanitarian operation, which involved the downed Mi-8, on July 28, said defense Minister Sergei Shoigu. According to him, the city had opened three humanitarian corridor for people from Aleppo. Population promised to provide hot meals and medical assistance. For three days in Aleppo was delivered 14 tons of humanitarian cargo, told reporters on June 30 the head of the Russian Center for reconciliation of the warring parties in Syria, Lieutenant General Sergei Charkov. Aleppo Governor Mohammad Marwan Albie later confirmed that three humanitarian corridor was opened.

Despite the stated goals of the operation, researcher, Institute of Oriental studies Gregory Melamed believes that one of the tasks of the Russian and Syrian military was preparing to storm Aleppo. “It was clear that sooner or later there will be a need really to storm Aleppo and to keep fighting in urban areas,” — says the expert. According to him, to keep fighting in densely populated areas is difficult, which is why the Syrian army, backed by Russian group videoconferencing displays from Aleppo civilians.

Melamed notes that the battle for the Iraqi city of Fallujah in may—June 2016 and was preceded by the humanitarian operation for the population.

Do not agree with military analyst Igor Korotchenko, a member of the public Council under the Russian defense Ministry. According to him, the main task of humanitarian operations is “the minimization of casualties among the civilian population”. She did not deny that the way the civilian population will facilitate the ability to conduct combat operations in the city.

Losses in Syria

Over 306 days of Russia’s military operation in Syria, which began on September 30, 2015, killed 14 Russian servicemen. About the latest victim, the military Department reported July 22. In the province of Aleppo killed a soldier Nikita Shevchenko, escorting a convoy of vehicles with food for local residents. Next to the car, where he was, an improvised explosive device.

During the Syrian operations group of the Russian aerospace defence forces lost a su-24 shot down a Turkish fighter jet, helicopter Mi-8, wrecked Turcoman group in the course of a rescue, and the Mi-28 that crashed due to an error of the crew. American intelligence-analytical company Stratfor was also published in may pictures of four burnt-out Mi-24 helicopters, presumably belonging to the Russian army. The defense Ministry denied this information.