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JEDDAH/CAIRO: Russia’s defense ministry said it had lost contact with a military surveillance aircraft with 14 servicemen on board near Syria’s Hmeimim air base, Russian and Syrian media reported late on Monday.

The Ilyushin 20 (IL-20) plane with 14 service members on board went off the radars during an attack by four Israeli jets on Syria’s Latakia province, the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement carried by the Russian news site

Syria’s state-run Ikhbariya TV also reported the plane’s disappearance without providing further details.

Air traffic controllers at the Russian air base in Latakia “lost contact” with the aircraft Monday evening “during the attack of Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia”, quoted the Russian defense ministry as saying. “The plane was 35 kilometers off the coast of Syria when it vanished.”

A search and rescue mission is underway, the report added.

The news site said the plane is capable of monitoring Syrian skies in real time. also quoted the Russian Defense Ministry as saying Russian radars “registered the launch of missiles from a French frigate in the Mediterranean on the evening of September 17.”

France and Israel have yet to comment on the Russian statement.


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