On the evening of September 17, Russian air traffic control systems at Khmeimim airbase lost communication with the military aircraft IL-20, carrying 14 soldiers, reports RIA Novosti with reference to the Russian Ministry of Defense.
The Defense Ministry indicated that the plane disappeared from radar screens at around 23:00 Moscow time during an Israeli air force attack on Syrian targets in the province of Latakia, which occurred on Monday evening. The ministry stated that four Israeli F-16 jets were involved in the attack. The Russian military reported that, at the same time, missiles launches were carried out by a French frigate, which is in the eastern part of the Mediterranean Sea.
The Ministry of Defense stated that the command of Khmeimim Airbase had begun a search and rescue operation. However, it is still not clear what happened to the aircraft.
Earlier, the Syrian government agency SANA reported that the air defense systems intercepted missiles fired at industrial sites in the province of Latakia. SANA claims that the attack was carried out by Israel.
The Israeli authorities have not yet commented on the incident.
Interfax reports, citing sources in the search and rescue team, that according to preliminary data, an "unexpected incident of a critical nature" could have occurred on board the plane. After that, the plane probably fell into the Mediterranean Sea and sank.
Il-20 is manufactured on basis of the IL-18 passenger aircraft and is used for electronic reconnaissance operations.