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Reports: Russian military plane carrying 14 disappears near Syrian coast

Russian Air Force Ilyushin Il-20M. (Kirill Naumenko/Wikimedia Commons)
September 18, 2018

This article was originally published by Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty and is reprinted with permission.

News reports say a Russian military surveillance plane with 14 crew members has disappeared over the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and CNN says Syrian anti-aircraft forces may have shot it down.

Russia’s state news agency TASS quoted a Defense Ministry official as saying that the Il-20 aircraft disappeared from radar at around the same time that Israeli F-16 fighters attacked targets in the Syrian province of Latakia.

The unnamed official was quoted as saying that the incident occurred late September 17 as the plane was returning to the Hmeimim base, where the bulk of Russia’s armed forces in Syria are housed.

The official said Russian military forces had launched a search operation.

CNN, citing an unnamed U.S. official, said the aircraft was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft artillery, and it appeared to have been inadvertent.

A second U.S. official told CNN that the incident occurred during an Israel attack on sites in Syria.

There was no comment from Israel on the incident.

Earlier, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported that missiles were fired at several locations in Latakia late September 17. State media said the explosions were suspected to have been caused by Israeli strikes.

Earlier, state media reported another suspected Israeli attack on Damascus’ international airport late on September 15.