Beirut-Russia says one of its helicopters crashed in Syria, killing the two pilots.
The Defence Ministry says the Mi-28N helicopter gunship crashed early on Tuesday near Homs after completing its mission. It says there is no evidence that it came under fire.
The ministry says the bodies of the pilots have been recovered and taken to the Hemeimeem air base on Syria’s coast.
Russia has been carrying out airstrikes since September 30 in support of Syrian government forces. The air campaign has allowed Russia to test some of its latest weapons, including the Mi-28 helicopter.
A pro-government media outlet says Syrian troops have launched an offensive to retake a strategic hilltop village south of Aleppo from insurgents, including al-Qaeda’s local affiliate.
Al-Manar TV says the attack on Tel al-Ais was launched on Tuesday. Al-Manar is run by Lebanon’s Hezbollah militant group, which is fighting alongside Syrian government forces.
The village overlooks a supply line connecting the capital, Damascus, to the northern city of Aleppo, parts of which have been held by insurgents since 2012.
A coalition of insurgent factions captured Tel al-Ais earlier this month after heavy fighting despite a US and Russian-brokered cease-fire, which excludes the al-Qaeda-affiliated Nusra Front.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, an activist-run monitoring group, says clashes are ongoing around Tel al-Ais and the nearby village of Khan Touman.