BEIRUT --- A Russian military cargo plane crashed near an air base in Syria on Tuesday, killing all 39 Russian servicemen on board in a blow to Russian operations in Syria. The Russian military quickly insisted the plane was not shot down and blamed the crash on a technical error.
The Russian Defense Ministry said Tuesday’s crash of the An-26 military cargo plane occurred just 500 meters (1,600 feet) from the runway of Syria’s Hemeimeem military base. It said the plane did not come under fire, adding it would conduct a full investigation.
The base near the Mediterranean coast is far from the front lines of the conflict, but came under shelling in December. Russian military outposts in the country have also come under rebel attacks recently, including a massive drone raid earlier this year involving 13 aircraft equipped with satellite navigation.
It was the second Russian military plane to crash in Syria this year, after a Su-25 ground attack jet was struck by a portable air defense missile over northern Idlib province last month. (end of excerpt)
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