Russian fighter jet crashes off Syria, both pilots killed

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Russia's Defense Ministry said a Russian fighter jet crashed Thursday shortly after taking off from an air base in Syria, killing both of its pilots.

Details are emerging regarding the crash of a Russia Su-30SM multi-role fighter-a modernized derivative of the Flanker family of jets-that occurred just off Syrian shores.

"Both airmen, who fought for the airplane until the final moment, have died, according to a report from the ground", RIA reported, citing a ministry statement.

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Russian Federation said the aircraft had not come under enemy fire, rather that a bird could have fell "into the engine", according to preliminary information. Four helicopters were downed and two crashed because of technical malfunction.

The airbase is far from frontlines and the ministry said that it suspected an accident, rather than enemy fire, had brought down the plane. "The plane was not struck by any projectile".