A video was recently released depicting an attack by Syrian rebels on a Russian rescue helicopter. The video was found on a YouTube account associated with the Free Syrian Army’s 1st Coastal Brigade, a US backed group. The US has been suppling the FSA with armaments including TOW anti-tank missiles, the weapon used in the video. According to Reuters, many rebel groups have been receiving increased amounts of the missiles from the US through Turkey and Saudi Arabia since the Russian air campaign began, most likely to blunt any Syrian offensive trying to capitalize off of their air support.
Two helicopters were said to have been on a search mission for the pilots of the Su-24 jet downed by Turkey in the recent attack in Syria, and the video shows them flying over a woodland area, followed by the attackers setting up the TOW weapon. The helicopter is shown landed in the distance. The attacker then fires upon the vehicle, destroying it. The video ends with the group celebrating.
It’s not clear the allegiance of the helicopter based on the videos; however, the Russian General Staff confirmed that one of the two Mi-8 helicopters engaged in Search and Rescue operations was damaged. The attack killed one Russian marine and injured an unknown amount of others, who were then evacuated to a Russian airbase in Syria.
This has happened in the past, with the FSA attacking another Russian helicopter, forcing an emergency landing in a Syrian government-held area.
These recent attacks are becoming a callback to the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, where the US backed Mujahideen fought an insurgency against the combined forces of the Soviet Union and Afghanistan Government. The USSR was unable to maintain air superiority against Stinger missiles used by the Mujahideen.