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Russian Military Plane Carrying 14 Disappears Near Syrian Coast

An Ilyushin Il-20M plane in flight (file photo)

A Russian military surveillance plane with 14 crew members has disappeared over the eastern Mediterranean Sea, and CNN reported that Syrian antiaircraft forces may have shot it down.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on September 18 that the Il-20 aircraft disappeared from radar at around the same time that Israeli F-16 fighters attacked targets in the Syrian province of Latakia.

"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 air base," the statement said.

"The tracking of the Il-20 on flight control radars disappeared during an attack by four Israeli F-16 jets on Syrian facilities in Latakia Province," it said.

The Hmeimim base is where the bulk of Russia’s armed forces in Syria are housed.

Russian military forces have launched a search operation.

CNN, citing an unnamed U.S. official, said the aircraft was shot down by Syrian antiaircraft artillery, and it appeared to have been inadvertent.

A second U.S. official told CNN that the incident occurred during an Israeli attack on sites in Syria.

There was no comment from Israel on the incident.

Earlier, the official Syrian news agency SANA reported that missiles were fired at several locations in Latakia late on September 17. State media said the explosions were suspected to have been caused by Israeli strikes.

Earlier, state media reported another suspected Israeli attack on Damascus's international airport late on September 15.

With reporting by TASS, CNN