At least 35 people, all identified as Syrian soldiers, have been killed when an army cargo plane crashed in bad weather in the north of the country.
Officials in Syria have confirmed that an army cargo plane crashed in the north of the country overnight, killing at least 35 Syrian soldiers who were on board.
The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the plane crashed after hitting electricity lines in heavy fog in Idlib province, a claim reciprocated by Syrian state media.
However, Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, Nusra Front, claimed on Twitter that it had shot down the aircraft. Syrian state media reported the crash without giving a death toll – possibly to prevent the incident being used as propaganda by the al-Qaeda affiliate.
“A medium-sized cargo plane crashed last night while landing at the Abu al-Duhur military airport because of bad weather conditions and heavy fog, killing the crew on board,” state news agency SANA said.
It gave no further details on the incident.
The Observatory said the plane was carrying troops as well as military equipment and ammunition. It said regime forces were involved in heavy clashes with Nusra fighters in a bid to reach and recover the bodies of those killed in the crash.
On one of its Twitter accounts, Nusra claimed it had shot down the plane and posted photos it said showed some of those killed in the crash, as well as the remains of the aircraft.
Militant groups have regularly shot down regime planes and helicopters in the country’s civil war. In December, Islamic State militants captured a Jordanian pilot whose plane crashed while participating in the U.S.-led coalition against the jihadist group. The Islamic State claimed to have shot down the plane, though Jordanian and U.S. authorities say the crash was an accident.