A RUSSIAN military cargo plane crashed as it was descending to land at a Russian air base in Syria, killing all 32 people on board.

Russia’s Defence Ministry has said an An-26 carrying 26 passengers and six crew members crashed 1600ft from the runway. The military blamed the crash on a technical error.

A key ally of Syrian President Bashar Assad, Russia leases the Hemeimeem base, situated near the Mediterranean coast.

It is far from the front lines of the conflict, but was shelled in December.

Russia said it would conduct a full investigation but insisted the plane did not come under fire.

Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, offered his condolences to the families of those killed. Peskov said Putin had received a briefing from defence minister Sergei Shoigu.

It was the second Russian military plane to crash in Syria this year. A Su-25 ground attack jet was struck by a portable air defence missile over Idlib province last month.

Meanwhile, UN investigators have said a Russian plane was apparently behind an air strike on a Syrian market that killed 84 people in November, an attack which could amount to a war crime

The findings, reported by the UN’s Commission of Inquiry on Syria, mark the first time the group has pinned responsibility for civilian deaths directly on Moscow.