Foreign-sponsored Syrian militants have fired two missiles at a Russian plane with at least 159 passengers on board when it was flying over Syria.
The targeted Airbus A320 plane, operated by Russia’s charter air carrier Nordwind Airlines, managed to avoid the two surface-to-air missiles, which subsequently exploded close to it.
An unnamed Russian source in Moscow said, “Syrian (officials) informed us that on Monday morning, unidentified forces launched two ground-to-air missiles which exploded in the air very close to a civilian aircraft belonging to a Russian airline.”
The source said the pilots managed to maneuver but it was only because they did so that lives were saved, adding it was unclear whether the attackers knew the plane was Russian.
The civilian aircraft was en route to the city of Kazan, in Russia’s republic of Tatarstan, from Egypt’s resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The Russian foreign ministry said in a statement that it was taking “urgent measures” to clarify the situation and was in contact with the Syrian authorities.
“On April 29, a Northern Wind plane was travelling in Syrian airspace from Sharm el-Sheikh to Kazan and the pilot crew has recorded military activities on the ground that could have endangered the plane and 159 passengers.
“The Russian authorities are taking urgent measures to clarify the situation including in contact with Syrian authorities,” the statement read.
Earlier on Monday, Syrian Prime Minister Wael Nader al-Halqi survived a bomb attack that targeted his convoy in central Damascus.
The Syria crisis began in March 2011, and many people, including large numbers of soldiers and security personnel, have been killed in the violence.
The Syrian government says that the chaos is being orchestrated from outside the country, and there are reports that a very large number of the militants are foreign nationals.
Several international human rights organizations have accused foreign-sponsored militants of committing war crimes in Syria.
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