KRASNODAR, July 10. /TASS/ One of the pilots killed in Syria was a resident of Russia’s southern Krasnodar Territory, the region’s Governor Veniamin Kondatyev wrote in his cable of condolences sent to the command of the 55th army aviation regiment.
"We cherish the memory of heroes who defend peace. Those who died were true heroes, people who protect Syria’s civilian population with their combat vehicles. Colonel Ryafagat Khabibulin is a resident of our region. All the (Kuban) region is mourning today and will always remember the names of its heroes," the governor’s press service quotes Kondraeyv as saying.
The Russian Defense Ministry earlier reported that on July 8, 2016, Russian flight instructors Ryafagat Khabibulin and Yevgeny Dolgin were making a test flight of a Syrian Mi-25 helicopter with ammunition in Homs province (Syria). At that time, a large detachment of ISIS gunmen mounted an offensive against Syrian troops to the east of Palmyra and, breaking through the defenses, made a rapid dash into the area, threatening to capture the heights.
The crew received a request from the Syrian grouping’s command to deliver air strikes at the advancing combatants. Crew commander Ryafagat Khabibulin made a decision to attack the terrorists. Owing to the Russian pilots’ correct actions, the terrorists’ attack was thwarted.
After running out of ammunition, the helicopter was hit by militants’ gunfire from the ground as it was making a turn and crashed in the area controlled by the Syrian government army. The crew died, the Defense Ministry said.