Russia's Defense Ministry may have lied about the ownership of a helicopter shot down by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria, a U.S. newspaper report says.
The ministry said two Russian military pilots, Ryafagat Khabibulin and Yevgeny Dolgin, were killed on July 8 when a Syrian Mi-25 helicopter was shot down by IS near Palmyra.
The Defense Ministry statement was quoted by the TASS news agency as saying the Russian crew of the Mi-25 helicopter, which was on a test flight, had "received a request" from Syrian forces to conduct airstrikes against a large detachment of IS gunmen" near Palmyra.
It said the crew died "after having run out of ammunition" and being hit by IS fire.
A video of the attack also appeared on an IS website.
However, The Washington Post newspaper, quoting media and expert reports, said on its website on July 11 that the helicopter actually belonged to the Russian military.