: Syrian group demands exchange for dead Russian aircrew

09:55 Aug. 5, 2016

Syrian group demands exchange for dead Russian aircrew

A Russian Mi-24 helicopter gunship flies on patrol while S-400 air defense missile systems are seen in the background, bottom, at Hemeimeem air base in Syria on Wednesday Jan. 20, 2016. (AP Photo)

Russian servicemen died after Mi-8 chopper was downed in rebel-held area in Syria

A Syrian group wants to swap the dead Russian aircrew for prisoners, held by the country's President Bashar al-Assad. The group claims it has the bodies of five servicemen, who died when Russian helicopter was shot down in Syria's rebel-controlled Idlib province, Reuters reports.

Read also: Two Russian pilots die in chopper crash in Syria

The demand is signed by people that call themselves the General Foundation for Prisoners' Affairs. They say, the bodies of the Russians will only be released to their families if Assad lets go prisoners held by Damascus and its allies. No names or numbers have been specified.

The group also demand that Syrian army must stop the siege of rebel-held areas. Additionally, humanitarian aid must be delivered to people that live in these areas.

Identity cards of the dead aircrew have reportedly been shown in the demand, made by the Syrian group.

Read also: Russian, Syrian airstrikes kill 19 civilians in Aleppo

The Kremlin reported on Monday, August 1, the Mi-8 military transport chopper had been downed after allegedly delivering humanitarian aid to the city of Aleppo. 

Russian forces have supported President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's five-year-old civil war. The shootdown is the biggest officially acknowledged loss for Russian army since it started the military campaign in Syria. 

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