Russian military jet vanishes off Syria during Israeli missile attack

Geraldine Edwards
September 19, 2018

Russian Federation blamed Israel on Tuesday for the loss of a military IL-20M jet to Syrian fire, which killed all 15 servicemen on board, and threatened a response.

Earlier, the Russian military said the Israeli raid was the cause of a Russian Il-20 aircraft being shot down by a Syrian missile, as Damascus was trying to repel the attack on its positions when the plane was landing.

"Hiding behind the Russian plane, Israeli pilots placed it for the fire of air defense of Syria", he said.

The IDF further found that Syria had fired the missiles after Israel Air Force planes already returned Israeli airspace.

Throughout the fighting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained continuous contact with Russian Federation.

Putin's spokesperson, Dmitry Peskov, on Tuesday called the deal "a landmark and crucial agreement for Syria's future" and said the shooting down of the plane will have no impact on that deal.

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Mr Putin said "radical militants" such as the Al Qaeda-linked Hayat Tahrir al-Sham would have to withdraw from the zone.

According to Reuters the official SANA news agency said the Technical Industry Institution in the state-controlled city had been targeted.

"As a result of countermeasures to the Israeli attack, the Syrian air defense troops brought down the Ilyushin-20", Shoigu indicated.

The defence ministry told Russia's TASS news agency: 'The trace of the Il-20 on flight control radars disappeared during an attack by four Israeli F-16 jets on Syrian facilities in Latakia province.

The secretary of state added: "It underlines the urgent need to resolve the Syrian conflict in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 [of 2015] and to end Iran's provocative transit of unsafe weapon systems through Syria, which are a threat to the region".

Putin made his remarks several hours after the Defence Ministry put the blame squarely on Israel for "provoking" the incident.

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The ministry accused the Israeli army of "intentional provocation" and said Israel did not warn Russian Federation of its operation in the area until one minute before the strike.

At approximately 10 P.M. Monday night four Israeli F-16 warplanes approached a Syria or Iranian military facility close to Latakia in northwestern Syria while firing missiles at the target.

Indeed, in this particular case, it seems that the Syrian air defense forces on the ground misidentified the Russian surveillance plane during the Israeli strike.

Israel's air force confirmed its attack on Syria on Twitter on Tuesday, saying it attacked a weapons site that it believed Syria would have transferred to terrorist groups to fire on Israel.

Russian Federation summoned the Israeli ambassador in Moscow to the Foreign Ministry on Tuesday to register a formal protest over the incident. "This is absolutely out of line with the spirit of Russian-Israeli partnership".

The Russian Il-20 that was shot down by Syrian air defense systems had been conducting reconnaissance activity in the Idlib de-escalation zone before the crash, he said. "Nevertheless, they deliberately carried out this provocation".

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However, diplomats and military experts have warned that the risk of inadvertent strikes is high.

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