2 dead in Russian fighter jet crash off Syria coast

May 3 (UPI) — Two Russian pilots were killed when a military fighter jet crashed in the Mediterranean Sea, off the coast of Syria, authorities said Thursday.

The Sukhoi-30SM fighter crashed Wednesday shortly after taking off from the Khmeimim airdrome, the Russian Defense Ministry said Thursday.

The cause is under investigation but officials say the plane may have had a bird strike.

“There was no fire impact on the plane,” the ministry said.

One of the victims was identified as Maj. Albert Davidyan.

Russia leases the Khmeimim base in Latakia province, where it maintains fighter jets and bombers involved in the military campaign to support President Bashar al-Assad’s government.

Russian warplane crashed in Jableh coast this morning. South Latakia countryside https://t.co/CF4Clc3Dmv pic.twitter.com/D86TjdnAnS via @anteebah_alSham #Syria- Liveuamap MiddleEast (@lummideast) May 3, 2018