A video of Syrian rebels allegedly firing at a Russian-made helicopter on the ground has been posted on a YouTube channel associated with the FSA’s 1st Coastal Brigade. The helicopter is said to have been on a search mission for the pilots of the Su-24 jet downed by Turkey in Syria.
According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, the militants stuck the helicopter with an anti-tank missile.
The Free Syrian Army (FSA), considered to be the so-called “moderate opposition” by the West, has received US Tow missiles among other weaponry.
The video released by the rebel group shows two helicopters flying over a wooded area. The clip then switches to a militant setting up and arming a TOW anti-missile rocket launcher.
It’s followed by footage of a helicopter on the ground filmed from a distance, which is blown up by a direct hit.
However, the distance and the quality of the video don’t make it possible to establish the allegiance of the helicopter.
The BGM-71 TOW (Tube-launched, Optically tracked, Wire-guided) is one of the most widely used anti-tank guided missiles, which has been produced in the US since the 1970s.
The missile has an operational range of up to 4,200 meters and an armor penetration of between 600 and 800 millimeters depending on the model.
The Russian General Staff confirmed that one of the Mi-8 helicopters taking part in the search and rescue operation for the pilots of the downed Russian Su-24 jet, has been damaged as a result of shelling.
A Russian marine was killed in the incident, while the rest of the crew and servicemen on board were evacuated to Russia’s Hmeymim Airbase in Syria, it said.
Two helicopters were participating in the search and rescue operation, the Russian General Staff added.
Reuters earlier reported that FSA fighters hit a Russian helicopter forcing it to make an emergency landing in a nearby government-held area in Syria's Latakia province.
The helicopter was said to have been searching for pilots of a Russian jet downed by Turkey earlier on Tuesday.
It is yet unclear who the helicopter was operated by - Syrian or Russian forces. But the rebels can be heard in the video saying they have hit a Syrian chopper.
Turkey said it was rightfully acting to defend its sovereignty as the Russian Su-24 had violated its airspace and hadn’t responded to warnings.
Moscow has denied Turkey’s claims, saying its plane was downed in Syrian airspace, where Russia is conducting an air operation against Islamic State and other terrorists.
Vladimir Putin called Ankara’s actions “a stab in the back delivered by accomplices of the terrorists,” adding that it will have severe consequences for relations between Russia and Turkey.