The military investigation bodies of the Russian Investigative Committee have launched a criminal case on violation of flight or preflight regulations after the crash of the Russian transport aircraft near the Hmeymin Air Base in the Syrian province of Latakia.
All people on board the crashed An-26 plane, including 33 passengers and six crew members, died in the incident, the Russian Defense Ministry said. Initially, it was reported that 32 persons were onboard.
According to the ministry, the aircraft crashed near Hmeymin air base at 3 pm on Tuesday when landing, hitting the ground 500 meters short of the runway.
A technical malfunction could have caused the crash, the ministry added, saying that the aircraft was not attacked.
An investigation into the incident is underway.
This is not the first time that an An-26 has crashed in Syria. In January 2015, an aircraft operated by the Syrian armed forces crashed while landing at the besieged Abu al-Duhur military airport in the Idlib Governorate.
The An-26 is a military transport aircraft capable of carrying up to 38 people excluding the crew and some 5,500 kilograms in cargo.
Russia has been maintaining a military presence in Syria since 2015, launching an anti-terrorist operation at the request of President Bashar Assad. Moscow has two military facilities in the country: the Hmeymin Air Base and the Tartus Naval Facility.