Watch: Syrian rebels blow up Russian helicopter

At least one Russian soldier confirmed dead in incident; chopper was taking part in rescue operation to find pilots of jet downed by Turkey.

Ari Soffer ,

Military helicopter in Sinai (illustrative)
Military helicopter in Sinai (illustrative)
Flash 90

Video has emerged showing Syrian rebels blowing up a Russian helicopter after it landed during attempts to rescue two Russian pilots whose jet was shot down by Turkey Tuesday.

The Russian military later confirmed that one of its soldiers was killed when one of several Mi-8 helicopters taking part in the search for the downed Su-24 jet was "damaged by gunfire."

"A search and rescue operation to evacuate the Russian pilots from the crash site was launched with the help of two Mi-8 helicopters," military spokesman General Sergei Rudskoi said in televised comments.

"During the operation, one of the helicopters was damaged by gunfire and had to land. A soldier was killed."

The video shows rebels watching from a distance as two choppers approach, and then cuts to show a fighter rapidly assembling what appears to be a US-made TOW missile launcher. In the next video frame, rebels score a direct hit on the helicopter.

A major international crisis appears to be brewing over the downing of the Russian jet, with Russian President Vladimir Putin warning of "serious consequences." In the past few hours senior US officials - including President Barack Obama - have backed Turkish claims that the aircraft was warned 10 times without responding before Turkish forces opened fire.

Russia insists the plane was in Syrian territory, while Turkey claims it was inside its airspace.

AFP contributed to this report.




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