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Syria: 39 die in Russian plane crash

A Russian transport plane crashed on landing at the Hmeimim airbase in Syria Tuesday, killing all 39 on board, Russia’s defence ministry said yesterday.

There were 26 passengers and 6 crew, the ministry said in a statement carried by RIA Novosti agency. It did not specify whether all of them were in the military. “The reason for the crash according to preliminary information could have been a technical fault,” the ministry said, adding that the plane had not come under fire according to a report from the ground.

The transporter was around 500 metres (yards) from the runway, the statement said.

A commission will investigate the causes of the crash. The Russian military prosecutor’s office has initiated a check of possible violation of aviation safety, a spokesman said.

Antonov-26 planes are used by the military in Syria for internal flights transporting troops and supplies between provinces, Kommersant business daily reported. The planes have also been used on press tours.

Moscow began conducting air strikes in Syria in September 2015, and its intervention has swung the nearly seven-year conflict firmly in favour of the forces of ally President Bashar al-Assad.

Russia’s official military losses in the Syrian war before the crash were 45. If all those killed yesterday were serving in the military, the toll would rise to 77.

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