MOSCOW (AP) — A Russian combat jet crashed on Tuesday while taking off from a base in Syria, killing both crewmembers.
The Russian Defense Ministry said that one if its Su-24 bombers skidded of the runway during takeoff at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia. The ministry said preliminary reports indicate that the crash likely had likely been caused a technical malfunction.
The twin-engine Su-24, designed in the 1970s, has been continuously modernized and fitted with new weapons systems. In November 2015, another such plane was downed by a Turkish jet near the Syrian border.
Moscow launched its campaign in Syria in September 2015, turning the course of the conflict in President Bashar Assad's favor.
Russian warplanes have been carrying out intense airstrikes in recent weeks against the Islamic State group in eastern Syria, where government forces are advancing against IS along the western bank of the Euphrates River. Russian warplanes have also been attacking insurgent positions in northern Syria.
On Friday, the Russian Defense Ministry said its jets had flown over 500 combat missions over the previous week.