first published on November 25, 2015 by Will
During a helicopter-borne Russian operation to rescue the surviving RuAF SU-24 pilot that was shot down by Turkey near the Syrian border, a Russian military Mi-8 was destroyed by a TOW missile launched by the U.S.-backed First Coastal Division branch of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) in late 2015.
The Mi-8 was initially forced to land after sustaining damage by rebel forces, and only after the helicopter had landed and evacuated its personnel was it destroyed. Differing reports from the FSA group and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) have emerged as to how the rotary-wing aircraft was taken down. The rebels claimed to have brought it down with a TOW missile, while the SAA claimed the Russian helicopter was struck in the tail by an Anti-Aircraft gun.
Reportedly, the Russian fighter pilot and the crew of the downed helicopter have been rescued by Russian/Syrian forces. Although it has been reported that one Russian naval infantry soldier of contract service was killed by small arms during the downing of the helo.
According to a press release by the Syrian Arab Army through their social media accounts, this is what unfolded, according to them:
“A lot of social media sites are spreading all kind of rumors on what happened with the Russian chopper. So once and for all, and let us remind you again, these information are somehow exclusive as one of our team member was on that mission.
The Russian chopper was hit by an AA gun in its tail, and had to make an emergency landing. The 15 men on board were unharmed, left the chopper and mistakenly headed toward a terrorist held territory.
Instantly, on the hit and before the chopper even landed, RuAF sent two Mi-24P choppers, and Syrian Army Special Forces unit from the 105th Mechanized Brigade of the Syrian Republican Guards was given orders to reach the chopper’s crew before terrorists do.
When the RuAF Mi-24P started hitting terrorist locations, the land crew knew they were heading in the wrong direction, so they barricaded and took a defensive position waiting the land forces to reach them.
There were three Syrian Special Forces teams who were advancing from three axis. Terrorists used AA gun to try and stop the land forces from advancing, but the RuAF Mi-24P in the air and Syrian Army’s Artillery took care of that. SyAAF and RuAF had jets in the sky in a close by location, including fighters, anticipating any foreign intervention.
The first spec-ops team to arrive to the crew’s location did not engaged the terrorists until they reached the crew. The other two teams arrived as well and the before the evacuation, our orders came to destroy the downed chopper so it won’t be left behind with any equipment intact. After taking a safe distance, and before destroying it, NATO-Backed terrorists launched a US-made TOW missile hitting the chopper on the ground.
The teams and the rescued crew members were extracted under RuAF, SyAAF and Syrian artillery into safety.”
The following video shows the FSA affiliated rebel group destroying the abandoned helo. Just to clarify the heft of the situation: A Russian fighter jet was shot down over what may have been Syrian airspace by NATO member Turkey and one of the occupants was subsequently killed by a Turkman rebel group based in Syria as he parachuted down. Russian and Syrian special forces conducted a mission to rescue the surviving pilot, at which point their helicopter was shot down and then destroyed, by a separate U.S.-backed rebel group using an American delivered TOW missile. A Russian Marine was killed during that event.