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Russian Fighter Crashes in Mediterranean: Defense Ministry

A plane comes in to land on the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in international waters on October 19, 2016 (AFP Photo)
A plane comes in to land on the Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov in international waters on October 19, 2016 (AFP Photo)

Russia's defense ministry said Monday that a fighter jet crashed while attempting to land on the Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier in the Mediterranean off Syria, but the pilot survived.

In a statement to Russian news agencies, the defense ministry said the MiG-29K fighter crashed due to a "technical fault" a few miles from the carrier.

The pilot ejected and was recovered and taken aboard the ship. "The pilot's health is in no danger. The pilot is ready to carry out missions," the ministry said, quoted by Interfax news agency.

The defense ministry did not say when the incident occurred, but said the plane was taking part in training flights. It stressed that flights were still going ahead from the aircraft carrier despite the accident.

"The flights of aircraft from the carrier are continuing in accordance with the set tasks," it said.

The ministry released a statement after US broadcaster Fox News reported the crash, citing US officials.

The Mig-29K is a multi-functional plane developed in the Soviet era and is used to strike targets both in the air and on the ground.

Russia acquired 24 MiG fighters last year. It also deploys Sukhoi bomber planes in Syria.

The Admiral Kuznetsov aircraft carrier arrived in the eastern Mediterranean off the Syrian coast as part of a flotilla of ships sent to reinforce Russia's military in the area, its commander confirmed on state television.

The ship's commander Sergei Artamonov said in an interview broadcast Saturday on Rossiya-1 television that planes had been taking off from the ship's deck "practically every day for the last four days" to survey the area.

The flotilla has sparked concern from NATO that it will be used to take part in air strikes on Syria.

The fleet cancelled a plan to refuel at a Spanish port after Madrid came under pressure to refuse permission.

Russia has been flying a bombing campaign in Syria for the past year in support of its ally President Bashar al-Assad and has deployed a naval contingent to back up its operation.

Officially, 20 Russians have been killed in combat so far.

Russia says it has ceased air strikes on rebel-held east Aleppo since October 18 after international condemnation of its ferocious bombardment of the city and has declared a series of brief ceasefires.

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