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Two Russian soldiers die after helicopter shot down in Syria

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, third left, visits the Hemeimeem air base in Syria, Saturday, June 18, 2016. Russia's defense minister visited Syria on Saturday to meet the country's leader and inspect the Russian air base there, a high-profile trip intended to underline Moscow's role in the region. (Vadim Savitsky/Russian Defense Ministry Press Service pool photo via AP) ORG XMIT: MOSB139

MOSCOW — Russia’s military says two of its airmen have died in Syria after their helicopter was shot down in Syria by fighters of the Islamic State group.

A Defense Ministry statement reported by the state news agency Tass said the incident occurred Friday east of the ancient city of Palmyra.

According to the statement, the two Russians were making a test flight in the Homs region with a Syrian Mi-25 helicopter that was carrying ammunition. It said IS fighters broke through Syrian forces’ lines east of Palmyra at the same time.

The statement said the Syrians requested the crew help strike the IS fighters and the helicopter was shot down after the crew exhausted its ammunition and it was leaving the scene.