Russian Federation blames Israel for deadly warplane downing by Syria

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Liberman and told him Israel was wholly to blame for the downing of the IL-20 plane and the death of 15 Russian servicemen.

Russia's defence ministry said overnight that one of its military aircraft with 14 people on board disappeared from radar screens over Syria at the same time that Israeli and French forces were mounting aerial attacks on targets in Syria.

"Using the Russian jet as a shield, the Israeli pilots put it in the fire of Syrian air defense systems", spokesman Maj.

Syrian anti-aircraft artillery reportedly responded to a number of Israeli missiles that were launched towards the coastal city of Latakia when it accidentally shot the Russian maritime patrol aircraft, according to a USA military official cited in the report.

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

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

It added that "when the Syrian army launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane, (Israeli) jets were already within Israeli airspace".

Putin said the Kremlin will look into circumstances surrounding the incident.

Russia's defense ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov (R) and the Chief of the Main Rocket and Artillery Department Nikolai Parshin in Moscow on September 17, 2018.

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Russian Federation has generally turned a blind eye to Israeli attacks on Iranian forces in Syria and the two countries' militaries maintain a hotline to avoid mistakes.

Russia's Defense Ministry specified that "the mark of IL-20 went off the radars and disappeared during the attack of four Israeli F-16 aircraft on Syrian targets in the province of Latakia".

The Israeli government is keen to prevent what it calls Iran's "military entrenchment" in Syria, and disrupt shipments of Iranian weapons to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which has a presence in Syria. The Syrian military shot down a Russian plane while trying to shoot down Israel F-16's.

Both the Israeli military and Israel's Foreign Ministry declined comment on the Russian claim.

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.

Loud explosions have shaken Syria's coastal province of Latakia, sending orange flames into the sky in what state media said was an Israeli attack targeting a state company for technical industries.

Russian state news agency TASS reported that a Russian IL-20 military aircraft disappeared over the Mediterranean.

The Russian defense ministry said Israel warned them of the impending strike "less than a minute" before it began, which left them insufficient time to clear their personnel from the area. "Nevertheless, they deliberately carried out this provocation", Mr. Konashenkov said. In this case, Russian-Israeli agreements on the prevention of unsafe incidents were not observed.

Hotlines are in place for key stakeholders to share operational information on their deployments, but diplomats and military planners say there is still a high risk of one state inadvertently striking another country's forces.

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