Russian plane disappears off Syria coast, following 'Israel strikes'
A Russian military jet carrying 14 personnel disappeared from radars as he flew off the coast of Syria late Monday, after Israeli air strikes were launched across the country.
Russia said the fate of the plane and its crew was "unknown" but a search for the crew was underway.
"Connection has been lost with the crew of a Russian Il-20 plane over the Mediterranean Sea 35 kilometres from the Syrian coast as it was returning to the Hmeimim airbase," the Russian defence ministry said early Tuesday.
Search and rescue teams told Russian news that the Russian warplane could have sunk in the Mediterranean Sea as a result of an "unforeseen critical incident" in the air.
The defence ministry said the aircraft disappeared when four Israeli jets launched strikes on Syria's Latakia province, which is the location of a Russian air base.
"The trace of the Il-20 on flight control radars disappeared during an attack by four Israeli F-16 jets on Syrian facilities in Latakia province," the statement was quoted as saying.
"At the same time Russian air control radar systems detected rocket launches from the French frigate Auvergne which was located in that region."
RIA Novosti news agency, citing a security source, said that Syrian anti-defence systems had countered a rocket attack.
Accusations over who was to blame for the downing of the plane marked the hours after news of the incident came out.
France and the US have denied any involvement in the strikes, which appear to have hit targets in Latakia, Homs and Hama provinces.
"The missiles were not fired by the US military and we have nothing further at this time," the US said.
"The French army denies any involvement in this attack," a French army spokesman said.
The strikes come after Russia and Turkey agreed to a de-escalation zone around Syria's Idlib province, where the regime was planning an offensive on the opposition territory.
The two countries nearly came to blows when Turkey downed a Russian fighter jet in 2015, after it strayed into its airspace.