On Friday, July 8th, militants of the Islamic State terrorist group downed the Mi-35M helicopter of the aerospace forces of the Russian Federation.
The helicopter was on a combat mission near Palmyra. Two pilots - Colonel Ryafagat Habibullin and Lt. Yevgeny Dolgin were killed in the crash.
Al Jazeera was the first media outlet that reported the downing of the helicopter. However, the Russian military rebutted the information after the news was made public.
A day after the incident, though, the Russian Defense Ministry was forced to admit that the helicopter was indeed shot down and the pilots were killed.
The official version says the Russian pilots Ryafagat Habibullin and Yevgeny Dolgin were on a combat duty on the Syrian Mi-25 helicopter. However, it was then specified that the Russian pilots were flying the new Russian helicopter Mi-35M, rather than the old Syrian Mi-25. According to the Kommersant newspaper, a group of at least two Mi-35M was patrolling areas in Homs province, when the crew headed by Colonel Khabibullin noticed a large group of militants attacking the positions of Syrian troops in the east of Palmyra.
Habibullin opened fire on the positions of the terrorists. The helicopter then tried to turn back, but a missile struck the tail boom of the chopper. The crew tried to align the movement, but the damage was considerable, and the helicopter crashed and exploded. There were no chances for the crew to save themselves.
The remains of the bodies of the crew of the downed Mi-35M were found by the Syrian troops and handed over to Hmeymim air base.
The Kremlin has not released any official statements on the matter yet. Nevertheless, it was said that Russia would not leave the attack unanswered.
Read article on the Russian version of Pravda.Ru
On December 14, President Putin holds his annual Q&A session with Russian and foreign journalists. This conference is considered to be the beginning of his presidential campaign