Russia blames Israel for shootdown of military jet over Syria

The Syrian government accidentally shot down a Russian military plane — killing more than a dozen people after Israeli missile strikes, officials said Tuesday.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Russian servicemen at an airbase southeast of Latakia, Syria. A Russian military jet was shot down near the base Monday. File Photo by Michael Klimentyev/EPA-EFE
Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with Russian servicemen at an airbase southeast of Latakia, Syria. A Russian military jet was shot down near the base Monday. File Photo by Michael Klimentyev/EPA-EFE

The shootdown occurred Monday when Israeli jets put the Russia Il-20 military aircraft into the path of Syrian defense systems in the Latakia province, off the Syrian coast, after failing to adequately warn Moscow of a strike.

A Russian airbase had lost contact with the plane’s crew late Monday as four Israeli F-16 jets attacked Syrian targets, Russia’s Defense Ministry said.

U.S. officials said Syrians were trying to stop a barrage of Israeli missiles when the Russian military plane was hit.

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Moscow Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Tuesday there was no warning even though Israel’s aviation control must have noticed the Russian aircraft as it was landing.

“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation,” Konashenkov said. “We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”

“We see these provocative actions of Israel as hostile,” Konashenkov added, saying Israel is to blame for the attack.

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Fifteen Russian servicemen aboard the plane were killed, Konashenkov said as a result of “irresponsible actions” by the Israeli Defense Force that violated the “spirit of the Israeli-Russian partnership.”

BySommer Brokaw