A Russian military aircraft crashed in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Syria, killing both pilots on board, state media said Thursday.
The plane may have been affected by a bird flying into its engine, news agency RIA-Novosti reported, quoting a statement from the defense ministry,
The plane was gaining altitude after taking off from Hmeimim airbase in Syria before it crashed, the ministry said.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing a Russian military jet fall in the water off the coast of the town of Jableh, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.
Hmeimim, which is near Latakia, about 241 kilometers (150 miles) north of Damascus, is Russia's largest airbase in Syria.
In March, 39 people, including military personnel, were killed when a Russian transport plane crashed while trying to land at Hmeimin, Russian state media reported.
All 33 passengers and six crew members were killed in the crash, RIA-Novosti reported, citing the Defense Ministry.
In December 2016, a Tupolev Tu-154 aircraft crashed after taking off from the Adler airport near the Black Sea resort city of Sochi, killing 84 passengers and eight crew members. The plane was carrying more than 60 members of the Alexandrov Ensemble, the Russian army's official dance and choir company, on its way to Syria to give a holiday performance for troops.
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