Russia plane downing in Syria causes Russia-Israel rift

Saul Bowman
September 21, 2018

On Wednesday night, the Israeli Defense Forces said that Norkin would fly to Moscow on Thursday morning to provide Russian Federation with information about the September 17 incident, including conclusions drawn by Israel.

Russian Federation has acknowledged that antiaircraft forces of its ally Syria inadvertently brought down the Il-20 plane, but it also blamed Israel for conducting a fighter jet raid on Syrian forces around the same time.

Syrian missile forces on Monday mistook the Russian Il-20 for an Israeli aircraft, shooting it down and killing all 15 people aboard.

"The continuous Israeli aggression against Syria is being carried out under various excuses and claims that Iran is arming Hizbullah in Latakia are totally baseless", Nasrallah said in a televised address marking the tenth night of Ashura, referring to Israel's latest airstrike on the coastal Syrian region.

Russia's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday that Israel must provide Moscow with more information about the downing of the military aircraft near the Syrian coast, the Interfax news agency reported.

At the time of the incident, Israeli jets were attacking targets in Syria and had only given Moscow one minute's warning, putting the Russian aircraft in danger of being caught in cross-fire, said the ministry.

Israel denied the allegations, saying its jets were already back in Israeli airspace when Syrian forces launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane.


After Monday's incident, the Russian military accused Israeli pilots of using "the Russian plane as a cover, exposing it to fire from Syrian air defences". "On this issue we have no other alternative", he told Army Radio. On Tuesday, the IDF expressed " sorrow" for the deaths of Russian airmen, but once again said the responsibility lies with the "Assad regime". -Gen. Amikam Norkin, to help with the investigation - and more importantly, to try to avoid a similar incident in the future.

"The Syrian anti-aircraft batteries fired indiscriminately and, from what we understand, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air", said IDF spokesman Brig.

Russia, too, must realize that its presence in Syria, backing Bashar Assad's murderous regime, carries risks and comes at a price.

"These weapons were meant to attack Israel, and posed an intolerable threat against it", it stressed.

Israel stated it will share all the relevant information with the Russian Government to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry, with an IDF delegation led by IAF Commander Maj.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express his condolences and offered to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report.

"This is the first Russian casualty in the Israeli-Iranian war of attrition", Center for Naval Analyses analyst Michael Kofman told the National Interest.

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