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Two Russian helicopter pilots shot down, killed in Syria - Interfax

People visit the ruins of the historic city of Palmyra ahead of a musical event at its amphitheatre, Syria May 6, 2016. REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki/Files

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Militants shot down a military helicopter near Palmyra in Syria, killing two Russian pilots on board, Interfax news agency said, quoting Russia’s defence ministry.

The two men had been attacking a detachment of Islamic State fighters in the Homs region on Friday, when the Syrian Mi-25 helicopter they were in ran out of ammunition, the ministry said, according to Interfax.

“The turning helicopter was hit by militants’ gunfire from the ground and crashed in the area controlled by the Syrian government army. The crew died,” it added.

Video footage published on Saturday by Islamic State’s affiliated news agency Amaq showed a helicopter being shot and crashing to the ground against cries of ‘It’s fallen, God is greatest’.

Russian forces entered the conflict at the end of last year, backing the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Additional reporting by Lisa Barrington in Beirut; Editing by Andrew Heavens