Published: Thu, September 20, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Syria's Assad blames Israel over downing of Russian plane

Syria's Assad blames Israel over downing of Russian plane

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called Putin on Tuesday to express sorrow over the death of the plane's crew, blamed Syria and offered to dispatch Israel's air force chief to Moscow to provide details.

Russia's Defence Ministry said the Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, with 15 Russians on board, had been downed by Syrian government anti-aircraft guns in a "friendly fire" incident on Monday, but blamed Israel for the incident.

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu discussed the matter with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday, warning that Moscow could retaliate with unspecified "measures".

Russian President Vladimir Putin tested a new sniper rifle produced by Kalashnikov during a visit to the company's shooting range in Patriot park outside Moscow on Wednesday.

On Monday night, Israeli F-16 fighter jets conducted an air raid on a Syrian weapons facility near the city of Latakia on the country's western coast.

But President Vladimir Putin, who spoke to his Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Tuesday, then called it "a chain of tragic chance events" although he added that Russian Federation needed to "seriously get to the bottom of what happened". According to the Israeli military, the weapons at the site were going to be given to Iranian-linked and Hezbollah forces - something Israel has vowed to prevent.

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Arguing that the military manuevers leading up to their plane being shot down were intentional, Konashenkov said the Israelis "deliberately staged this provocation" and accused Israel of creating a risky situation for both aircraft and sea vessels operating in that area.

Israel on September 18 said Syrian antiaircraft batteries "fired indiscriminately" and failed to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air during the incident on September 17.

The military said the plane disappeared as four Israeli fighter jets were attacking targets in the area.

Israel and Russian Federation maintain close coordination about each other's activities in and above Syria in order to avoid such incidents.

Russia said the Israeli aircraft "pushed" the Russian plane into the line of fire.

The army said Major-General Amikam Norkin and other senior officers would "present the situation report of the event regarding all aspects, including the pre-mission information and the findings of the IDF (Israel Defence Forces) inquiry".

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