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35 killed in Syrian military plane crash, al-Qaida claims credit

Sources told a Syrian observatory group the plane went down because it struck a low power line, but al-Qaida's Nusra Front has claimed credit for the crash, which killed 35 Syrian troops.

By
Fred Lambert

IDLIB, Syria, Jan. 18 (UPI) -- At least 35 Syrian soldiers were killed in a cargo plane crash in northwestern Syria, sources on the ground and state media said Sunday.

The plane, which carried Syrian government personnel and military equipment, went down at the Abu al-Duhur air base in Idlib province. Sources told the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that it "crashed as a result of collision with electricity transmission wires."

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Al-Qaida's wing in Syria, the Nusra Front, has claimed credit for downing the plane, according to the BBC, which also noted that Syrian state media blamed the crash on "weather conditions and heavy fog."

Sources also told SOHR that Iranian nationals were on the plane, though the rights group, which gathers information from a network of sources on the ground in Syria, was not able to confirm that detail.

Islamic extremist groups, such as the Islamic State, have shot down Syrian military aircraft in the past.

Last month a Jordanian F-16 pilot crashed while conducting bombing missions in Syria and was captured by IS militants, though U.S. Central Command denied the pilot had been shot down by the group.

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Jordan is part of Operation Inherent Resolve, an international coalition including the U.S., Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, which collectively performs bombing missions against IS in Syria.

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