"Connection has been lost with the crew of a Russian Il-20 plane over the Mediterranean Sea 35 kilometers from the Syrian coast as it was returning to the Hmeimim airbase", the Russian defense ministry said early Tuesday.
In 2016, a Russian Ministry of Defence Tu-154, carrying 92 people and also on its way to Khmeimim, crashed shortly after taking off from Sochi airport, killing all on board.
Footage shared by Syrian state TV claims to show Syrian forces firing missiles from Lattakia, adding a "number of missiles" have been shot down by its air defence network. The plane's SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) and its satellite link allow the Russian military to monitor Syrian skies in real time.
The Syrian air defense network in western Syria is very densely populated with anti-aircraft missile and radar systems. This absolutely does not correspond to the spirit of Russian-Israeli partnership, ' Interfax news agency quoted Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov as saying.
"At the same time, the Russian radars fixed missile launches from the French frigate Auvergne, which was in that area", the Defense Ministry said.
A U.S. official said Washington believed the aircraft, which is an Il-20 turbo-prop plane used for electronic reconnaissance, was inadvertently shot down by anti-aircraft artillery operated by Moscow's ally, the Syrian regime.
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Syrian anti-aircraft artillery reportedly responded to a number of Israeli missiles that were launched towards the coastal city of Latakia when it accidentally shot the Russian maritime patrol aircraft, according to a USA military official cited in the report. It was unclear if Syrian government or Iranian forces were at the facility. State media said the explosions were suspected to have been caused by Israeli strikes.
A US Central Command spokesman said the United States did not carry out any strikes in that part of Syria on Monday. A military official quoted then on state media said Syrian air defenses intercepted some missiles coming from the sea.
Almost half an hour later, it said the strikes continued.
When Putin, Erdogan and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani met in Tehran on September 7, Putin had rejected Erdogan's proposal for a ceasefire in Idlib, and both Moscow and Damascus had affirmed their determination to drive Al Nusra out of the province and re-establish government control.
This would entail a "withdrawal of all radical fighters" from Idlib including the Al Nusra Front and also the withdrawal of heavy weaponry including tanks, multiple launch rocket systems, President Putin said.