Conflict Intelligence Team: Russian Mi-35 in Syria might have been hit by friendly fire


Expert group of journalists Conflict Intelligence Team released its analysis of the available data on shooting down Russian helicopter in Syria.

At first, Kremlin officials did not acknowledge the loss of a helicopter at all, but under the pressure of evidence and published the video they said that the helicopter was a Syrian Mi-25, and the pilots were Russian “instructors”.

However, disclosing the names of killed pilots allowed to reveal that one of the pilots was a commander of an elite regiment of Russian Air Forces, and probably the highest-ranking Russian officer killed in Syria, who in 2008 took part in the invasion in Georgia. Also, the Defense Ministry assured that the helicopter was allegedly shot down an American anti-tank missile TOW.

Experts of Conflict Intelligence Team reviewed the available video, and concluded that the helicopter was not a Mi-25, but rather a new Russian Mi-35, which Syrian army didn’t have, so it could only be Russian. Another conclusion was that there are reasons to say that the helicopter was shot down by “friendly fire” from another Russian helicopter that was following the first one, and was doing the same thing: firing unguided rockets at ground targets.

“Russian Defense Ministry said that the helicopter was shot down by an American heavy anti-tank missile system TOW. However, throughout the whole time of Russian campaign in Syria, there have been no reports of ISIS militants hijacking TOW systems, or any signs of TOW missiles being in possession of this terrorist organization. In addition, TOW missiles, like many others of this type, are driven by wire, and are unable to hit a helicopter because of the limited speed and maneuverability,” experts wrote.

They also deny the possibility of shooting down the helicopter with a surface-to-air missile due to lack of missile contrail on video.

“In the video you can see that immediately before the accident the helicopter shoots unguided rockets, and after each shot a plume of smoke remains in the air remains, and goes below the fuselage of the helicopter.


However, at the moment of hitting the steering propeller of the helicopter, we see that a similar plume of smoke is coming from the object just above the fuselage of the affected helicopter,” the CIT said.


“The combination of these factors allows at least seriously investigate the version that Mi-35M was accidentally shot down by another helicopter with an unguided aircraft missile. During the fighting, the leading helicopter could accidentally get into the line of fire of the driven helicopter, which was flying slightly higher. This might also explain why ISIS did not publish photos and video of launching a MANPAD, and why the video was not published immediately,” the experts summarized.