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RUSSIA: Transport plane crashes in Syria killing 39 aboard

RUSSIA: Transport plane crashes in Syria killing 39 aboard

He said that initial information suggested the crash may have been caused by a technical fault.

The Russian military said an An-26, with 26 passengers and six crew members onboard, crashed 1,600ft from the runway. Both the crew members and passengers were killed.

"The plane was not shot down", the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation reported, according to Russia's REN TV.

Russian state TV cited military officials as saying the aircraft had not been brought down by enemy fire.

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in a telegram offering his condolences, said when the crash happened, the service personnel on board were returning to base after completing an unspecified combat mission.

Russia, a key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, leases Hemeimeem military base in Syria, near the Mediterranean coast.

Russian Federation is also said to have lost nine military aircraft in Syria since it entered that country's civil war.

It has, though, come at a cost. The pilot reportedly ejected over an area controlled by militants.

The Chief Military Investigation Body of the Russian Investigation Committee started criminal proceedings regarding the crash in Syria.

The RIA Novosti news agency on Tuesday quoted Col. Gen. Nikolai Antoshkin, former deputy commander of the Russian Air Force, as calling the An-26 a "reliable machine" even though it has been out of production since 1986.

The families of the deceased, all of whom were Russian servicemen, will be provided with necessary assistance and support. Moscow denies they exist.

Media outlets, open-source researchers, and relatives and colleagues of Russian mercenary soldiers have said that many Russians - possibly dozens or hundreds - may have died in the clash in Syria's Deir al-Zor Province on February 7.

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