The Free Syrian Army, a conglomerate of several rebel groups fighting against Bashar al-Assad’s forces in Syria, has uploaded a video to YouTube showcasing its apparent success striking a direct hit on a Russian helicopter that had recently landed.
The fighters claim they shot down the helicopter Tuesday during the day, and that it was located near the crash site of a SU-24 Fighter Jet that was shot down earlier by Turkish forces. The strike occurred in Latakia province, Syria, which is controlled by forces loyal to Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad.
The rebels used a U.S.-made BGM-71 TOW missile, a powerful guided anti-tank missile to destroy the Russian helicopter. After striking a direct-hit on their target, they exclaimed, “Allahu Akbar!”
Some 23 rebel groups are supplied with U.S. TOW missiles, according to reports.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), an anti-Assad, anti-ISIS advocacy group, confirmed that the Syrian fighters destroyed a Russian helicopter on Tuesday.
Rami Abdulrahman, who heads the SOHR, said that the helicopter was hit after the 10-man Russian crew had evacuated.
The news comes following confirmation that a Russian fighter jet was shot down Tuesday morning by Turkish forces, after Ankara claimed that the warplane had continuously violated its airspace. Turkish officials said they warned the Russian pilots ten times over a five-minute span before finally taking down the warplane with its own F-16 Fighting Falcons. The helicopter crew was reportedly tasked with searching for the jet pilots who were downed by Turkey.
SOHR has reported extensively on the civilian death toll following Russia’s continuing air strikes on rebel-held areas in support of the Assad regime. The group claims that Russia’s ongoing air campaign in Syria has resulted in the deaths of 403 civilians, including 166 women and children.
Russia has become a prime enemy for the rebels due to Moscow’s willingness to hone in on strikes against their positions, preferring to hit rebel-held areas over Islamic State-controlled territory, as the western-backed rebels pose arguably a more immediate threat to Assad’s rule.