This post was edited by JFenix at 2013-5-1 00:20|
Two missiles were reportedly fired at a Russian plane with at least 159 passengers on board flying over Syrian territory. Russian officials admit the jet faced danger, but are not talking of a targeted attack.
On Monday Interfax cited “an informed source in Moscow,” which reported that a Russian passenger plane was attacked, while flying over a mountainous area of Syria.
“Syrian [officials] informed us that on Monday morning, unidentified forces launched two ground-to-air missiles which exploded in the air very close to a civilian aircraft belonging to a Russian airline,” the source told the Russian agency.
The pilots reportedly managed to maneuver the plane in time however, “saving the lives of passengers.”
“No one was injured, and the plane was not damaged. The aircraft landed in Kazan as had been planned,” the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism told news agencies. There were 159 passengers and eight crewmembers aboard the aircraft.
The plane that was allegedly targeted belonged to Nordwind Airlines – a Russian charter air carrier – and was identified as an Airbus A320. On April 29 it was en route to the city of Kazan, in Russia’s republic of Tatarstan, from Egypt's resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh.
The Russian Foreign Ministry said on its website the plane’s crew at 4:55pm Moscow time (12:55 GMT) “detected battle action on the ground that, according to the crew, could constitute a threat to the 159 passengers on board the plane.”
The ministry is now “taking emergency measures to clarify all the circumstances of this situation, including making contact with the Syrian authorities,” spokesperson Aleksandr Lukashevich said.
On Tuesday, Interfax’s source informed that the aircraft was attacked when it was flying at an altitude of 9,800 meters.
“The first missile detonated at 9,200 meters, the second one at 8,900 meters”, the source said.
After the crew reported the incident to Syrian ground control, the flight was allowed to gain altitude of nearly 1,000 meters more, according to the source.
Meanwhile, Russia's federal air traffic agency Rosaviatsia on Monday issued a directive to all Russian airlines prohibiting routes through the Syrian airspace. Previously in February Rosaviatsia issued a warning to all Russian airlines to avoid routes over conflict zones.
Russian experts believe that, so far, there are no grounds to claim that the aircraft became a target of a missile attack, experts say.
Russia’s major airlines - Aeroflot, Transaero, S7, Tatarstan - have avoided Syrian airspace for months due to the situation on the ground, despite additional time and fuel expended to avoid Syrian territory.