Russian military jet crashes on takeoff in Syria, crew killed

(Reuters) – A Russian military jet crashed while taking off from Russia’s Hmeymim air base in Syria on Tuesday in an incident that killed its two-man crew, Russia’s Defense Ministry said, Russian news agencies reported.

The Sukhoi-24 attack aircraft, codenamed Fencer by the NATO military alliance, was heading out on a combat mission, but its crew failed to eject after the plane veered off the runway, the ministry was cited as saying.

A technical fault may have been to blame, the ministry said.

Russia has used the Hmeymim base in Latakia Province to launch air strikes against opponents of President Bashar al-Assad since it first intervened in the Syrian conflict in September 2015.

Russia lost two other planes – a Sukhoi-33 and a MiG-29 – off the coast of Syria last year in accidents involving its sole aircraft carrier, the Admiral Kuznetsov.