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Watch Syrian Rebels Blow Up a Russian-Made Helicopter

Syrian rebels are proving their effectiveness on the battlefield

ZAGAN, POLAND - JUNE 18:  A Polish Army MI-8 helicopter participates in the NATO Noble Jump military exercises of the VJTF forces on June 18, 2015 in Zagan, Poland. The VJTF, the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, is NATO's response to Russia's annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Troops from Germany, Norway, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Holland were among those taking part today.  (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)
ZAGAN, POLAND - JUNE 18: A Polish Army MI-8 helicopter participates in the NATO Noble Jump military exercises of the VJTF forces on June 18, 2015 in Zagan, Poland. The VJTF, the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force, is NATO's response to Russia's annexation of Crimea and the conflict in eastern Ukraine. Troops from Germany, Norway, Belgium, Poland, Czech Republic, Lithuania and Holland were among those taking part today. (Photo by Sean Gallup/Getty Images)

The same day that Turkish forces shot down a Russian jet for allegedly violating Turkey’s airspace, Syrian rebels affiliated with the Free Syrian Army published a video purporting to show their fighters blowing up a stationary Russian-made helicopter on YouTube.

The video shows Syrian rebels launching what arms analyst Elliot Higgins, who runs Bellingcat, a website for open-source analysis, identified on Twitter as a U.S.-made TOW (tube-launched, optically-tracked, wire-guided) missile at a helicopter sitting exposed in a field some distance away.

The First Coastal Division, the group that uploaded the video, said it destroyed the helicopter after forcing it to land with an earlier missile strike, according to Reuters. And the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a watchdog group monitoring the conflict in Syria, told Reuters that at least 10 passengers evacuated from the helicopter after it landed, escaping the second missile strike that ultimately destroyed it. It’s not clear whether the crew was Russian or Syrian.

Russian military officials have confirmed that two of its Mi-8 helicopters were dispatched on a search and rescue mission for the pilots who parachuted from the Russian jet downed earlier on Tuesday, and that rebels destroyed one of the two helicopters. “During the operation, as a result of small-arms fire, one of the helicopters was damaged, and forced to make a landing on neutral territory,” Lieutenant-General Sergei Rudskoi told reporters on Tuesday.

One Russian soldier died in the incident, and “the downed helicopter was destroyed by mortar fire from territory controlled by armed gangs” Rudskoi said. It hasn’t been confirmed whether the video below depicts the helicopter referenced by Rudskoi or if it’s of a separate incident.

Check out the video here:

SEAN GALLUP/Getty Images

Henry Johnson is a fellow at Foreign Policy. He graduated from Claremont McKenna College with a degree in history and previously wrote for LobeLog. Twitter: @HenryJohnsoon

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