President Vladimir Putin has visited a famed Russian monastery to pray for Russian servicemen killed in Syria.

Two Russian airmen died in Syria over the weekend after their helicopter was shot down by Islamic State group fighters east of the ancient city of Palmyra.

Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov says the president is spending his day at the 14th-century Valaam monastery in northwest Russia close to the Finnish border.

Peskov told reporters Monday that Putin has asked the monks and the visiting head of the Russian Orthodox Church to remember those who "work, fight and give their lives to serve the motherland" and to pray for the two troops killed over the weekend.