AMMAN (Reuters) - A Syrian jet bomber crashed just after take-off from Syria's Hama airport after it encountered a technical problem, a Syrian military source told state media on Sunday.

The military source, quoted by Syrian news agency SANA, did not say when the crash had occurred.

A separate statement from a military source on state television said the pilot had deliberately crashed into an empty area to prevent civilian casualties.

The city of Hama, in western Syria, is controlled by the Syrian government.

Several Russian-manufactured warplanes have crashed since the start of the year, mostly due to technical failures which defense analysts have generally attributed to age.

A rebel source told Reuters the plane that crashed was a Russian Mig 21 fighter but this could not be independently verified.

(Reporting by Suleiman Al-Khalidi and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Gareth Jones)