Graphic footage has emerged of a naked body being dragged through the dirt following the downing of a Russian military helicopter in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province earlier today (1 August). The man is believed to be one of the pilots.
As bystanders gathered to capture footage of the grisly incident, the battered and bloody corpse could be seen being loaded onto a truck. Another video showed a body being trampled on and identity documents allegedly taken from helicopter could also be seen.
Moscow said all five people on board the Mi-8 aircraft were killed after delivering humanitarian aid to Aleppo. The helicopter was making its way back to Latakia air base in western Syria as it was shot down in the single deadliest episode for Russian forces since launching operations in September 2015. It is the third time that Russia has lost a helicopter in Syria this year.
"As far as we know from the information we've had from the defence ministry, those in the helicopter died, they died heroically, because they were trying to move the aircraft away to minimise victims on the ground," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in a statement.
Three crew and two officers were travelling on the helicopter when it was brought down. Footage posted online in the aftermath of the crash showed scattered wreckage burning on the ground as onlookers recorded the images.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. General Sergey Rudskoy, chief of the main operations department of the Russian General Staff, was quoted by Russia Today as saying: "The helicopter was hit from the ground in an area under control of the armed units of Al-Nusra Front terrorist group and the troops of the so-called 'moderate opposition' who joined them."
Jabhat Fateh al-Sham, which was previously known as Jabhat al-Nusra, has a strong presence in the Idlib province. Last week the group severed its ties with al-Qaeda and changed its name.