A Russian transport plane with 39 people on board has come down in Syria on approach to the Khmeimim airbase near Latakia.
A statement issued by the Russian defence ministry suggested that a technical fault may have caused the Antonov-26 turboprop to crash. According to Zvezda TV, a channel connected to the Russian military, there were no local reports of enemy fire. The plane crashed 500 yards short of the runway at approximately 2.15pm local time.
The plane was flying from the Kuweires Military airbase near Aleppo and had made two stops on the way. According to the Telegram channel Mash, which has been associated with military and security sources, civilian passengers were also on board. All passengers died on impact.
The accident was the largest involving a Russian military plane since 2016, when a Tupolev 154 crashed with 92 on board shortly after taking off from Sochi airport. Among the passengers on board that plane were members of the Alexandrov Red Army choir and the well-known humanitarian worker Elizaveta Glinka ("Doctor Liza".)
The Antonov-26 is a light, multipurpose military workhorse designed in Kiev, Ukraine. It first flew in the late 1960s. It is mostly used as a cargo plane, the An-26 has also been used to dispatch paratroopers in attack missions of its own. It has an undistinguished safety record. No fewer than 176 of 1403 planes produced have been involved in hull loss accidents.
A special commission has been formed to investigate the incident.
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