A Russian helicopter was shot down in the rebel-held Idlib province in northern Syria, killing all five aboard, the Kremlin said Monday.
The Mi-8 helicopter was returning to the Russian air base on the Syrian coast after delivering humanitarian goods to the besieged city of Aleppo in northern Syria, the Defense Ministry said in a statement, reported the Associated Press.
“As far as we know from the information that has reached the Defense Ministry, those on board died, they died heroically,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters, according to Reuters.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Idlib province has a large number of fighters for the Nusra Front, an al-Qaida affiliate that recently announced it was breaking off, as well as other rebel groups fighting President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, including U.S.-backed moderates.
The United Nations acknowledged Russia’s efforts to create “exit corridors” that would allow for the distribution of food in Aleppo and let residents leave if they wish. Stephen O’Brien, U.N. undersecretary for the coordination of humanitarian affairs, stressed that such corridors should be recognized by all sides and that residents should only use them voluntarily, not be forced to leave.