Russia accuses Israel of ‘criminal negligence’ over downed plane in Syria

Following conflicting responses from Putin and other Russian officials, the Russian Defense Ministry renewed accusations blaming Israel for the Syrian strike that downed a Russian spy plane last Monday.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff

The Russian Defense Ministry is again accusing Israel of causing the downing of a Russian military plane over Syria.

Syrian government forces mistook the Russian Il-20 reconnaissance plane for an Israeli jet and shot it down Monday, killing all 15 people aboard. While the Russian military initially blamed the plane’s loss on Israel, President Vladimir Putin later defused tensions, calling the downing “a chain of tragic, fatal circumstances.”

The Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday said an Israeli fighter jet flying over Syria’s coastal province of Latakia shortly before the downing deliberately used the Russian plane as a shield. Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov says the Israeli pilot’s actions showed “either lack of professionalism or criminal negligence.”

Previously, the Kremlin both communicated to Israel that it believed the strike violated Syria’s sovereignty and breached Russian-Israeli compacts regarding protocol in Syria.

Putin, however, reportedly was initially receptive to Israel’s explanation, but warned the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “not to allow such situations in the future,” reported Times of Israel.

The Russian Defense Ministry’s latest comments appear to be an about-face from Putin’s comments that the incident was the product of tragic, but accidental, circumstances.

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