A Russian military Il-20 plane carrying 14 service members disappeared from radars on Monday night as four Israeli jet fighters were attacking state institutions in Syria’s Latakia.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, air traffic controllers at the Hmeimim Air Base “lost contact” with the aircraft, during the attack of Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia.
The plane was 35 kilometers off the coast of Syria when it went off the radars, RT quoted the Russian defense ministry as saying.
A search and rescue mission is reportedly underway to find the fourteen people aboard the Il-20 aircraft.
The Ilyushin 20 surveillance turboprop plane is an Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) platform, equipped with a wide range of antennas, infrared and optical sensors. The plane's SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) and its satellite link allow the Russian military to monitor Syrian skies in real time.
The news of the plane’s disappearance surfaced shortly after Syria announced its air defense system had shot down several missiles fired from the sea, targeting state technical industry institutions in Latakia.
Meanwhile, a US official with knowledge of the incident claimed the Russian plane had been inadvertently shot down by the Syrian anti-aircraft artillery after the Syrians came under attack by Israeli missiles.
CNN quoted the US official as saying the Syrian army was actually trying to stop a barrage of Israeli missiles, and a second official confirmed that Zionist regime was responsible for the missile strikes on the Syrian positions.
Syrian officials could not initially confirm rumors that Zionist regime was behind the attack, but the Russian sources later announced that the missiles had been fired both by Israeli jet fighters and a French frigate in the Mediterranean.
According to the Russian defense ministry, the attacks started around 10 p.m. local time and lasted one hour, targeting a power station as well as two facilities belonging to the Syrian military.
While the Russian military said it registered four F-16 Israeli jets over Syria at the time of the attack on Latakia, the Israeli military has refused to comment on the report.