Russian plane crashes in Syria killing 32 - Defence Ministry


A man pushes a cart past damaged buildings in Douma on Monday

The plane had 92 people on board, including 84 passengers and eight crew members. The Russian military insisted the cargo plane did not come under fire, while saying it would conduct a full investigation. The aircraft was making its approach, when it abruptly lost altitude and collided into the ground 1600 feet short of the runway.

Russian President Vladimir Putin extended his condolences to families of the victims.

Moscow began conducting air strikes in Syria in September 2015, and its intervention has swung the almost seven-year conflict firmly in favour of the forces of ally President Bashar al-Assad.

Tuesday's crash brings Russia's official military losses in the Syrian war to 84.

It has, though, come at a cost.

The Interfax news agency quoted a spokeswoman for Russia's Investigative Committee, which handles high-profile cases, as saying Russian investigators have been dispatched to Syria to look into the crash.

The pilot ejected into rebel-held territory and facing certain capture chose to blow himself up with a grenade, the Defence Ministry said at that time.

Three battalions of military police and officers of the Russian Centre for Reconciliation would remain in Syria, as well as two Russian bases, Shoigu said on a subsequent trip.

Syria denied allegations it had carried out the attack, dismissing them as an act of desperation by Western powers.

Russian officials said a handful of Russian citizens may have been killed in that incident, but said they were not members of Russia's armed forces.

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. "When will this senseless war end?"

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