March 6 (UPI) -- A Russian military transport plane crashed Tuesday as it was about to land in Syria, killing more than three dozen people on board, officials said.
The Antonov-26 aircraft crashed at Russia's Khmeimim airbase in the Latakia province and killed 39, state-run RIA-Novosti reported.
Preliminary data suggest a technical malfunction may have caused the aircraft to crash short of the runway, according to the Russian defense ministry.
The airbase is the main site for Russia's military campaign in Syria, but officials say the plane did not come under fire.
Deaths in Syria are mounting as weeks of combat continue between rebel groups and the Syrian government, which is backed by Russian air power.