Thursday, October 8, 2015

Russian helicopter shot down in Syria's Hama, say activists

Russian helicopter shot down in Syria's Hama, say activists

At least one suspected Russian helicopter was downed in Hama province where a major Syrian regime offensive is underway, activists said on Thursday.
Fighting between Syrian regime forces and rebel factions continued on Thursday as a government offensive on opposition-held Hama and Idlib continues for a second day.

Early reports suggest that rebel fighters have shot down at least one Russian aircraft and have so-far stalled the regime offensive.

The helicopter was reportedly shot down in the northern countryside of Hama, the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights said.

Independent activists on social media appear said that at least one other helicopter was shot down in Kafr Nadouba in Hama, which was also believed to be Russian.

Russia has between four and six Mi-24 Hind attack helicopters stationed at an air base in Latakia.

The Syrian airforce also operates the export version of the aircraft.

Activists reported that the helicopters shot down were supporting Syrian ground forces in the area and most likely Russian.

A video released by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights appear to show two helicopers descending and appear to be Hind aircraft. 

There were no reports about whereabouts of the crew.

Russian aircraft hit rebel positions in the Sahl al-Ghab region on Thursday, where a rebel advance has captured regime-held territory over the past two weeks.

Syrian and Russian jets have violated Turkish territory a number of times this week.

There were further unconfirmed reports on Thuerday that a Russian war plane was shot down over Turkey and another in Syria.

Rebel coalition Ahrar al-Sham said they had destroyed 18 tanks, four armoured personnel carriers, and five machine gun-mounted vehicles from regime and Russian forces in northern Hama.

The group also claimed the fighters killed 50 goverment troops and injured a further 100 during the regime offensive in northern Syria.

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