Russian helicopter crashes in Syria, 2 pilots die

An Su-24 bombers on the runway at the Hmeymim air base in Syria. At least four were destroyed according to reports

An Su-24 bombers on the runway at the Hmeymim air base in Syria. At least four were destroyed according to reports

Airstrikes have continued to hit the rebel-held city of Harasta, with the United Nations warning that as many as 400,00 civilians in the area face "complete catastrophe" because aid deliveries have been blocked by the government and people needing urgent medical treatment have not been allowed outside the enclave.

Nineteen were killed in Russian strikes in the town of Misraba on Wednesday, while the remainder died the same day in regime strikes and shelling in other areas, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

Russian Federation has rejected claims their jets are responsible for the deaths of thousands of civilians since the country began its intervention in the Syria civil war, saying that they are are only targeting hardline Islamists. More than 40 people were also injured.

Eastern Ghouta, a small enclave east of the capital Damascus, is controlled mostly by rebels from the Jaish al-Islam group.

Russian planes, providing air support to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's forces, have intensified shelling of the neighbourhood and its surrounding districts, including Arbin city in southern Syria.

The United Nations has made repeated calls for warring parties to abide by their responsibility to protect children in line with global humanitarian and human rights law.

The Britain-based watchdog Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said most of the airstrikes were carried out by Russian jets.

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Eastern Ghouta has been targeted despite being among a handful of so-called de-escalation zones in Syria, where military activity is prohibited under a ceasefire agreement endorsed by Turkey, Russia, and Iran earlier this year.

'As darkness fell, the Hmeimim air base was subjected to sudden mortar shelling from a mobile group of militants.

On January 3, Russia's Defense Ministry said that one of its military helicopters crashed in Syria, killing both pilots aboard.

Russian media is reporting that at least 7 Russian aircraft were destroyed in shelling by radical Islamists at the Khmeimim Air Base in Syria on December 31st of previous year.

"A report in the Kommersant newspaper on the alleged destruction of seven Russian warplanes at the Hmeymim airbase is fake".

Last month, Russian Federation announced it was withdrawing the bulk of its forces from Syria after it had been fully liberated of Daesh elements.

Moscow acknowledged in recent months that its special forces are also active on the ground in the offensive against Islamic State militants.

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