A Russian fighter jet crashed after taking off from an airbase in Syria today, killing both pilots, Moscow's defence ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
""As it was climbing after taking off from the Hmeimim airbase, the Russian fighter Su-30SM crashed into the Mediterranean Sea. Two pilots, who fought until the last minute to save the plane, died, according to reports from the scene," the statement said.
The ministry said the plane did not come under fire and that preliminary information indicates the crash could have been caused by a bird being sucked into one of the plane's engines.
The accident brings Russia's official military losses in Syria to 86.
The most recent acknowledged military loss came when a transport plane crashed on landing at the Hmeimim airbase in March, killing all 39 people on board.
But Russian nationals are regularly reported to be serving as paid mercenaries in Syria and taking on dangerous missions that often lead to casualties.
(With PTI inputs)