Russia’s Defense Ministry has confirmed a Friday incident in which ISIS shot down a Syrian Mi-25 helicopter, killing a pair of Russian military pilots, who were designated as “instructors” during the deployment. The incident was east of Palmyra and Tadmur.
The helicopter was scrambling to try to stall an ISIS advance in the area, and reportedly had used up all its ammunition, turning to return to base when it was hit by ISIS fire. It crashed, killing the pilots on board.
This brings the toll of active Russian military killed over the course of their involvement in the Syrian Civil War to 12. There are claims of other Russians who have been killed fighting alongside the Syrian military, though these do not appear to have been current soldiers.
Tadmur and Palymra are strategically important as the only major city in their area, and after being “liberated” by the Syrian military earlier this year, with intense Russian air support, ISIS has been trying to push back into the area.