A passenger plane carrying 172 passengers from Tehran to Damascus made an emergency landing at the Russian-controlled Hmeimim Air Base in Syria on Thursday to avoid coming under fire from Syrian air defences, Russia said yesterday.
The Syrian forces were responding to Israeli strikes on targets in Syria, Defence Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov was quoted as saying by Russian agencies.
The Syrian Defence Ministry said it had intercepted Israeli missiles over Damascus that were fired at military targets in southern Syria. Israel has declined to comment.
The Airbus A320 had been coming into land at Damascus International Airport when it was forced to divert to the nearest alternative airfield near Latakia in north-west Syria, which is operated by the Russian military.
Mr Konashenkov did not name the airline. Data from Flight Radar showed a flight from the Iraqi city of Najaf had been diverted from Damascus toward Hmeimim. That was a Syrian Cham Wings plane. The airline could not immediately be reached for comment.
The US imposed sanctions on Cham Wings in 2016 for allegedly transporting fighters to Syria to support President Bashir al-Assad and for helping Syrian military intelligence transport weapons and equipment.
The flights, which land mostly late at night, do not appear in timetables and fly in from Damascus or Latakia, where Russia has a base.