Two missiles were reportedly fired at a Russian plane with at least 159 passengers on board that was flying over Syrian territory. Russian aviation authorities admit the jet "faced danger," but say it's too early to talk of a targeted attack.
"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," an informed source in Moscow told Interfax news agency.
The pilots managed to maneuver the plane in time, however, "saving the lives of passengers."
It is believed the aircraft was intentionally targeted in the attempted strike, "but it remains unclear whether the attackers knew whether it was Russian or not," the source added.
The targeted plane belongs to Nordwind Airlines—a Russian charter air carrier, says the Ministry of Transport. It was en route to the city of Kazan, in Russia's republic of Tatarstan, from Egypt's resort city of Sharm el-Sheikh, reports RIA Novosti.
When the Airbus 320 passenger plane was flying over Syria, "the crew spotted signs of combat activities which, they believed, could pose a threat to the safety of the plane," states Russia's Transport Ministry, citing the Federal Air Transport Agency (Rosaviatsia).
"No one was injured, and the plane was not damaged. The aircraft landed in Kazan as it had been planned," the Russian Federal Agency for Tourism told news agencies.
Russia's embassy in Damascus is looking into the report of the attack on the Russian passenger plane, RT has been told.
Meanwhile, Syrian aviation authorities received no indication of the alleged attack on the Russian plane,says the director of Syrian Airlines, Ghaida Abdullatif:
"We contacted the service that monitors traffic within Syrian airspace. None of the air traffic control services or other ground services at the airports in Damascus and Latakia have confirmed the information of a Russian plane plane being fired at".
The civil war in Syria between the government of President Bashar Assad and opposition forces has been raging for over two years, claiming the lives of more than 70,000 people according to UN estimates. Assad says he is fighting an insurgency which has been sponsored from abroad.