Syrian Military Plane Crashes Near Turkish Border

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Ankara: A Syrian military plane has crashed in Turkey near the country’s border with Syria, the Turkish state-run news agency Anadolu said.

The plane crashed in the Turkish province of Hatay yesterday, it said, quoting provincial governor Erdal Ata as saying police and medical teams were at the site.

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“The plane’s cockpit was empty. We believe that the pilots parachuted out,” Ata said, adding that a search for them was underway.

A Syrian military source quoted by state television said “contact was lost with a military aircraft on a reconnaissance mission near the Turkish border.”

The Syrian rebel group Ahrar al-Sham told AFP that it had shot down a government plane “as it was overflying Idlib province (in northwestern Syria) and carrying out air strikes.”

A monitor of the conflict, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, said that a plane “which probably belongs to the Syrian regime crashed in Idlib province. The status of the pilot is unknown and there are contradictory reasons for the cause of the crash.”

Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, quoted by Anadolu, said earlier that the cause of the crash was unknown, but he pointed to poor weather conditions at the time.

Inhabitants of the Turkish border village of Samandag said they heard a loud noise at around 6:30 pm (local time) and alerted the police, the Dogan news agency said.

More than 310,000 people have died since the war in Syria erupted in March 2011 after regime forces crushed anti-government protests. Millions have fled the country.

The conflict has drawn in regional and international powers and helped the rise of brutal jihadist groups, including the Islamic State group.

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