A Russia’s Il-20 military aircraft with 14 servicemen on board disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea, an official with Russia’s Defense Ministry announced Tuesday.
The plane went off the radar while F-16 fighters of the Israeli Air Force and a French ship had attacked targets in the Syrian province of Latakia.
"On September 17, at about 11:00 Moscow time, the connection with the crew of the Russian Il-20 aircraft was lost over the Mediterranean Sea when the plane was returning to the airbase of Khmeimim, 35 kilometers from the coast of Syria," the official said.
The ministry specified that "the mark of IL-20 went off the radars disappeared during the attack of four Israeli F-16 aircraft on Syrian targets in the province of Latakia. At the same time, the Russian radars fixed missile launches from the French frigate Auvergne, which was in that area," the Defense Ministry said.
The official also said that there were 14 servicemen on board and their fate is unknown. The command of Russia’s air base at Khmeimim launched a search and rescue operation.
The plane was reported to be on a reconnaissance/electronic attack mission in support of the Assad regime when it disappeared. Such sudden disappearance could have happened if the aircraft broke up following a missile attack on it.
Western media sources reported that the plane was probably hit by anti-aircraft fire of the Syrian air defence system which was attacking the Israeli missiles.