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Russia says military plane with 14 aboard lost off Syria’s coast

An Ilyushin Il-20 (Photo: By Kirill Naumenko - http://www.airliners.net/photo/Ilyushin-Il-20M/1567560/L/&sid=7ddc3313380fd5c58e193241e501277c, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=16647683)

MOSCOW (AP) — Russia’s military said Tuesday that one of its aircraft with 14 people on board has disappeared over Syria’s Mediterranean Sea coast.

The Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement that the Il-20 plane went off radar 35 kilometers (22 miles) away from the coast late Monday as it was returning to the Russian base near the city of Lattakia.

The military said the plane disappeared as four Israeli fighter jets were attacking targets in the area.

The ministry also said that it detected missile launches from a French frigate nearby around that time.

Officials did not immediately say if the plane was shot down.

Russia has been a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and it has two military bases in the country, including one close to the Mediterranean coast.