A Russian transport plane went down at Russia's Khmeimim airbase in Latakia province, Syria Tuesday. The devastating crash claimed the lives of all 39 people aboard the plane, 33 passengers, and six crew.
According to the Russia defense ministry, the plane was an Antonov-26 aircraft that was heading to Khmeimim base with 39 aboard when it went down but it does not appear to have been shot down. Initial reports indicated the crash could have been due to a technical failure.
The Antonov-26 aircraft went down about 500 meters short of the runway around 3 pm Moscow time (12:00 GMT). The destination of the aircraft was the Khmeimim airbase, one of the main sites for Russia's military campaign in Syria. In a statement, the defense ministry said, "Nobody survived. According to reports from the scene, no fire was delivered against the plane."
Russia's Investigative Committee announced Tuesday it has opened a criminal case into the crash and investigators will be looking into whether flight safety rules had been violated. The deadly crash was the second Russian military plane to crash in Syria this year after a Su-25 ground attack jet was shot down by a portable air defense missile over northern Idlib providence last month.
Russia's president Vladimir Putin ordered "a significant part" of Moscow's military force at Khmeimim to start withdrawing in December. Putin declared their work in Syria to be largely a success and nearly concluded but the causalities are still piling up. Just last month, reports surfaced that nearly 300 Russian soldiers were killed by U.S. air strikes in a friendly fire mishap.
Dmitry Gudkov, a former member of parliament and a member of the anti-Putin opposition, called out the Kremlin on Twitter saying they had questions to answer about the campaign in Syria. "How does the drawdown of forces look now?" Gudkov asked. "For the sake of what are these people dying? When will this senseless war end?"
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