| Published Tuesday, September 18, 2018 | 12:57 GMT

Breaking: Russia Blames Israel for its Military Plane Shot Down in Syria

- All 15 crew members dead, Russia vows appropriate response

The Il-20 aircraft was returning to a Russian base on the north-western coast of Syria (file photo)

The Russian military says an Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events that led to its Il-20 plane being shot down by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

Russia Said it ‘reserves right to response’ after saying Israel's actions led to downing of Il-20 by Syria

On Monday evening, four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria’s Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean, a statement by the Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday. The Israeli warplanes approached at a low altitude and “created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region,” it said.

The military said that the French Navy’s frigate ‘Auvergne,’ as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area during the Israeli operation.

“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile,” the statement said.

v The Russian ministry said the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, but this did not stop them from executing “the provocation.” Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came just a minute before the attack started, which “did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area,” the statement said.

The statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members on board the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane is underway.

Ananlysis by the Russian Defence Council of the Incident

A later update said debris from the downed plane was found some 27km off the Latakia coast. The search party collected some body parts, personal possessions of the crew, and fragments of the plane.

Russia formally complained to Israel about its air raid on Monday, which led to the downing of a Russian Il-20 plane off Syria coast. Russia laid the blame for the loss of live “squarely on the Israeli side”.
Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu spoke to his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman on the phone about the downing of the Russian Il-20 plane on Monday night. He relayed Moscow’s position on the incident, which blames the Israeli military for setting up the Russian plane to be shot down by Syrian air defenses responding to an Israeli air raid, an official statement from the Russian military said.

Shoigu reiterated that Israel failed to notify Russia of the impending attack in a way that would give the Russian military to move the Il-20 out of harm’s way. Instead the warning came one minute before the Israeli F-16 fighter jets launched their attack.

“The blame for the downing of the Russian plane and the deaths of its crew members lies squarely on the Israeli side,” the Russian minister said. “The actions of the Israeli military were not in keeping with the spirit of the Russian-Israeli partnership, so we reserve the right to respond.”

Earlier the Russian defense ministry said the Israeli jets used the bigger Russian plane as a cover during the attack on targets in Syria. The ministry said the Israelis must have known that they were putting the Russian plane at risk, but neither changed their battle plan nor gave a warning to the Russians in time to move the Il-20 to a safe area.

The Israeli government has not publicly commented on the incident so far.
Israel did not comment on the reports about the air raid in Syria, which is consistent with its usual policy on such matters. Israeli officials earlier acknowledged hundreds of airstrikes conducted in Syria over the past years. Israel claims its interventions are necessary to fight the Iranian presence in its neighboring country.

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