A Russian military transport plane crashed in Syria killing all 39 personnel on board, the greatest loss of Russian servicemen in one incident in Syrian territory since Moscow intervened in the conflict in 2015. The aircraft reportedly was not fired on but rather crashed due to a technical malfunction while attempting to land at the Hmeimim airbase, located near the coastal city of Latakia. It comes amid growing international pressure on Moscow for its involvement in the ongoing assault on Eastern Ghouta, a rebel-held enclave on the outskirts of Damascus that regime forces, backed by Russian air power, have been pummeling for over two weeks. Syrian pro-government fighters were again accused on Tuesday of perpetrating a chlorine attack in the area, this time targeting the town of Hammoria. According to the Syrian Civil Defense, whose rescue workers are widely known as the White Helmets, dozens of civilians were treated for “suffocation.” More than 650 people have been killed since the assault began last month, with neither a daily five-hour “humanitarian pause” imposed by Russia nor a 30-day nationwide ceasefire agreed to by the United Nations Security Council leading to any relief for the 400,000 citizens that remain trapped.
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