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Russian plane crash in Syria death toll rises to 39

A Russian An-26 transport plane

Russia’s Defense Ministry has raised the death toll from a military transport plane crash near the Hmeimim air base in Syria to 39, Radio Liberty reported.

The ministry said that according to preliminary information, 33 passengers and six crew members died when An-26 transport plane crashed while landing at the base near the coastal city of Latakia on March 6.

All of them were Russian military personnel, it added. The Russian military had previously put the death toll at 32.

Ministry officials said the crash was "most likely caused by a technical fault," adding that there were no indications the plane came under fire.

"There was no attack on the aircraft reported at the site," Russian news agencies quoted officials as saying.

The ministry said a major general was among the dead, according to Russia’s TASS news agency.

Russia's Investigative Committee announced it had opened a criminal case into the crash, saying investigators would look into suggestions that flight-safety rules had been flouted.

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