first published on December 1, 2017 by Will
Video has emerged apparently showing a Syrian Mi-25 helicopter being shot down over southwest Damascus airspace, near Mount Hermon, on Friday December 1, 2017.
Unconfirmed reports on Twitter claim the aircraft was shot down using man-portable air-defense systems (MANPADS or MPADS), which are heat-seeking shoulder-fired missile platforms designed to engage aircraft at altitudes up to 15,000 feet, depending on the make and model. No confirmation from the Syrian government has been given, so far.
It’s unlikely that the Syrian aircraft was taken down by a lucky anti aircraft heavy machine gun round, but it seems odd that a rebel group would waste an incredibly valuable asset on a simple military transport helicopter, unless they had some sort of intelligence that a high value target may have been aboard.
The use of MANPADS in Syria seems to date back to 2012, when rebels overran army bases and seized Syrian military stockpiles of weapons. According to documented weapons transfers, there are over 15,000 MANPADS in Syria, but at this point, the west cannot be certain how many are in the hands of rebels, non government entities, or have been smuggled out of the country.
The transfer of such weapons is usually banned and supposed to be strictly monitored under international law. However, back in April 2016, the US-backed Homs Liberation Movement branch of the Free Syrian Army mysteriously acquired Chinese-made FN-6 heat-seeking missiles, proudly displaying them in a propaganda video. It was suspected that the US had laundered the weapons into the hands of the rebels through Gulf State facilitators.
In December of 2016, the Russian Foreign Ministry called the United States’ decision to arm rebel groups with MANPADS a “hostile move.” Under President Barrack Obama, the US was giving material support, including anti tank guided missiles (ATGM) to rebel groups. The weapons were sometimes used against Russian forces.