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Dozens feared dead following plane crash in Russia

A plane has reportedly crashed at Rostov-On-Don airport in the early hours Credit: Google Maps

Dozens of people are feared dead after a passenger plane crashed during landing in Russia today.

According to Reuters the Boeing 737-800, believed to be a Flydubai operated jet, crashed at 3.50 am local time at Rostov On Don airport with 55 passengers and six crew members on board.

Most of the passengers on board were Russian, the regional governor said during a televised statement, but reports that "three foreigners" were on the passenger list were still being investigated.

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Flydubai 'aware of incident' involving plane in Russia

Flydubai have said they are "aware of an incident" involving one of their flights which was due to land in Russia today.

The airline posted on Facebook that they were investigating news of an incident involving flight number FZ981 which was travelling from Dubai to Rostov On Don.

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It came after reports in Russian media that a Flydubai plane had crashed during landing in the southern Russian city.

Russia will complete Syria withdrawal 'within days'

Russian fighter jets take off as part of the withdrawal of troops from Syria. Credit: Reuters

Russia will complete the withdrawal of most of its military forces from Syria "in two to three days", a Russian air force official has said in an interview with state-run media.

President Vladimir Putin ordered the pullout of forces from the country on Monday.

He emphasised that the Russian airbase in Hemeimeem in Syria's coastal province of Latakia and a naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartous will continue to operate.

Opposition say Russia withdawal could pave way for peace

The Syrian opposition said Russia's partial withdrawal of forces could pave the way for an end to the five years of fighting in the country.

Opposition spokesman Salim al-Muslat responded to the reports of a Russian withdrawal as he attended the ongoing peace talks at the United Nations in Geneva. Credit: Reuters

But spokesman Salim al-Muslat told reporters officials in Moscow had not directly informed them of Russian President Vladimir Putin's decision.

Mr al-Muslat said the withdrawal of troops could help bring about an end to Syrian President Bashar Assad's "dictatorship and his crimes".

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Hammond: Judge Russia withdrawal on actions not words

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond has said Russia should be judged on actions not words as he awaited confirmation of its partial withdrawal of forces from Syria.

Mr Hammond told the Commons the international community had not received "independent evidence" of the downscaling of Russian forces

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said he had not received direct confirmation on the Russian withdrawal as he updated MPs on the situation in Syria.

He said he would be "delighted" if the reports were verified but said no members of the International Syria Support Group were given advance notice of Mr Putin's surprise announcement and urged caution.

No one would be more delighted than me if, after five months of relentless bombing, Russia is genuinely winding down its military support to the brutal Assad regime.

But, as in all matters related to Russia, it is the actions rather than the words that count. We shall be watching carefully over the coming days to see if the potential promise of this announcement turns into reality.

– Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond

Russian airstrikes in Syria to continue as jets return home

The Russian air force will continue striking targets in Syria linked to Islamic State and other groups as it is "still early to talk about victory over terrorism", a Russian minister has said as a first wave of departing jets land at home.

The Kremlin's chief-of-staff separately confirmed Russia will keep its most advanced air defence system in Syria, which has a range of almost 250 miles, despite withdrawing the bulk of the nation's forces.

Video shows Russian planes taking off and flying home from Syria base

Deputy defence minister Nikolai Pankov was meanwhile quoted by the RIA news agency as saying a "real chance has emerged" to end the conflict through the resumed Geneva peace talks.

But despite speaking at a "mission accomplished" ceremony he guarded against snap conclusions from Russia's partial withdrawal of forces.

Certain positive results have been achieved. A real chance has emerged to put an end to this long-running standoff. But it is still early to talk about victory over terrorism. The Russian aviation group has the task to continue carrying out strikes on terrorist facilities.

– Russian deputy defence minister Nikolai Pankov

First Russian planes leave Syria base as withdrawal begins

The first group of Russian planes have flown out of their Syria base after Russian president Vladimir Putin announced a surprise partial withdrawal of military equipment and personnel from the war-torn country.

The first wave of Russian planes and fighter jets have left Syrian air bases amid the resumption of peace talks in Geneva.

Russia's defence ministry confirmed a group including Sukhoi-34 fighter-bombers had left the Hmeymim air base after Russian state television showed air base personnel loading transport aircraft for return.

The ministry said each group will be led home by either a Tupolev-154 passenger plane or an Ilyushin-76 transport aircraft carrying engineers, technical personnel, and cargo.

Security personnel have loaded cargo onto the planes as the withdrawal begins at the end of a five-and-a-half month campaign.

Mr Putin has not specified how many planes and troops will remain but said a Russian airbase in Hemeimeem in Syria's coastal province of Latakia and a naval facility in the Syrian port of Tartous will continue to operate.

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