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172 escape death as plane crashes in Syria, Russia blames Israel

RUSSIA – A plane carrying 172 passengers from Tehran, the Iranian capital, to Damascus has made an emergency landing at the Hmeimim Air Base in Syria.

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Russia said on Friday that the plane came under fire from Syrian air defences.

The Spokesperson of the Russian Defense Ministry, Igor Konashenkov told Interfax that the Syrian forces were retaliating Israeli strikes on targets in Syria.

This is exactly one month after a passenger plane belonging to Ukraine crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran.

The incident claimed the lives of all 176 passengers on board with Iran later claiming to have shut down the plane, citing human errors.

The Airbus A320 was coming into land at Damascus International Airport when it was forced to divert to the nearest alternative airfield.

The Hmeimim Air Base is operated by the Russian military.

Data from Flight Radar showed it was a Syrian Cham Wings plane.

America had imposed sanctions on Cham Wings 4 years ago for allegedly transporting fighters to Syria to support President Bashir al-Assad and helping Syrian military intelligence transport weapons and equipment.

The flights do not appear in any airport or airline timetables and fly in from either Damascus or Latakia, where Russia has a military base. It is also said to almost always land late at night.

A Cham Wings plane had flown Iran’s General Qassem Soleimani from Damascus to Baghdad shortly before the military commander was killed by the U.S. in an airstrike in January.

Konashenkov accused Israel of using civilian aircraft as cover to block Syrian air defences from responding to Israeli combat missions, which he said had become a characteristic feature of the Israeli air force.

“Such operations by Israeli strategists gamble the lives of hundreds of innocent people.

“The movement of regular passenger flights both in Syrian airspace and around the world is carried out in known, high-altitude echelons, which Israeli radar can clearly see.”

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