Russian military plane vanishes over Syria's Mediterranean Sea coast

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A Russian military plane carrying 14 personnel over the Mediterranean has "disappeared from radar" about 25 kilometres from the Syrian coastline.

The defence ministry in Moscow said the aircraft was returning to the Russian-run Hmeymim airbase in Latakia province when, at about 11:00 pm Moscow time (20:00 GMT) on Monday, it disappeared from radar screens.

"At the same time, the Russian radars fixed missile launches from the French frigate Auvergne, which was in that area", the Defense Ministry said.

The fate of the 14 people on board the missing plane is unknown, and a rescue operation has been organised out of the Hmeymim base, the ministry said. In addition, Russia's Tartus naval facility is based in the Latakia governorate, as well as its Khmeimim air base. A military official quoted then on state media said Syrian air defenses intercepted some missiles coming from the sea. The Russian Defense Ministry did confirm the aircraft had gone missing in the early hours of September 18, 2018, local time in Syria, but did not say who or what might have been responsible for the crash.

RIA Novosti news agency, citing a security source, said that Syrian anti-defense systems had countered a rocket attack.

In recent weeks, Russian officials have repeatedly said that rebels in Idlib were preparing a chemical weapons attack that could be blamed on the Syrian Government and prompt a retaliatory strike by the West.

While the Russian military said it recorded four F-16 Israeli jets over Syria at the time of the attack on Latakia, the IDF has refused to comment on the report.

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Israel does not regularly comment on alleged strikes in Syria.

U.S. officials believe the Il-20 surveillance plane - with 14 people aboard - was accidentally brought down by anti-aircraft artillery operated by Moscow's ally, the Syrian government, Reuters reported.

Earlier, state media reported another suspected Israeli attack on Damascus's global airport late on September 15. The group denies it is linked to al-Qaeda.

Syrian regime military sources have told Russian media that Latakia's power station and an aluminium factory had been hit.

Erdogan said that the deal "will prevent a humanitarian tragedy that could happen as a result of military action" and that the agreement between the two countries would bring "hope to the region".

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.

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