Russia rebukes Israel for ‘irresponsible and unfriendly actions’ leading to downed plane

“Moscow views as irresponsible and unfriendly actions of [the] Israeli Air Force, which exposed Russian Il-20 aircraft to danger and lead to death of 15 servicemen,” the Russian embassy in Israel stated on Twitter.

By: World Israel News Staff

Russia on Thursday issued a scathing condemnation of Israel for an incident in which a Russian plane carrying 15 soldiers was mistakenly downed by the Syrians during an Israeli Air Force (IAF) strike on Iranian targets in the country.

“Moscow views as irresponsible and unfriendly actions of Israeli Air Force, which exposed Russian Il-20 aircraft to danger and lead to death of 15 servicemen,” the Russian embassy in Israel stated on Twitter.

“Russia would take all necessary measures to eliminate threat to life and security of our military fighting against terrorism,” it added.

On Monday, while responding to an Israeli airstrike, Syrian missile defense systems shot down a Russian plane carrying 15 Russian soldiers over the Mediterranean Sea. Moscow blamed Israel for the incident, claiming that they were not briefed in time about the planned strike.

The IDF stated after the incident that its fighter jets targeted a facility of the Syrian Armed Forces from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah terror in Lebanon.

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

It also rebuffed Russian claims about not being notified, saying “the IDF and the Russian army have a deconfliction system, which was agreed upon by the states’ leaders, and has proven itself many times over recent years. This system was in use tonight as well.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin over the telephone on Tuesday, Netanyahu expressed his regret, but placed blame on Syria, offering Israel’s full cooperation to Russia in investigating the incident.

On Tuesday, Putin referred to the incident as the product of “tragic accidental circumstances.”

Israel offers full cooperation

The IDF in a statement expressed its sorrow for the death of the aircrew members, while stressing that “Israel holds the Assad regime, whose military shot down the Russian plane, fully responsible for this incident.”

“Israel also holds Iran and the Hezbollah terror organization accountable for this unfortunate incident,” the IDF added.

An initial inquiry into the incident by the IDF suggests that “extensive and inaccurate” Syrian anti-aircraft (surface-to-air missile) fire caused the Russian plane to be hit and downed, that when the Syrian Army launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane IAF jets were already within Israeli airspace, that during the strike against the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was then hit was not within the area of the operation, and that the Syrian anti-air batteries fired indiscriminately and from what the IDF understood, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air.

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. Gen. Amikam Norkin departed for Moscow on Thursday.

Norkin and the delegation will present the situation report of the event, including the pre-mission information and the IDF’s findings, in addition to addressing Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organization and to establish an Iranian military presence in Syria.

Putin has accepted Israel’s offer to share the information on the Israeli airstrike in Syria, the Kremlin said Wednesday.

While Putin took a cautious stance on the incident, he warned that Russia will respond by “taking additional steps to protect our servicemen and assets in Syria.”