Syria accidentally shot down a Russian military plane
19 September, 2018, 22:39 | Author: Ted Wilson
"As a result of the irresponsible actions by the Israeli military, 15 Russian servicemen have died". Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.
A United States official with knowledge of the incident said Monday that the Syrians were trying to stop a barrage of Israeli missiles when the Russian aircraft was hit. However, it could not confirm their identity and Syria has made no official comment.
Foreign powers involved in the protracted conflict - including Israel and Russian Federation - operate hotlines to exchange operational details to avoid one side accidentally attacking the other's forces.
Russian Federation said it would make an "appropriate response" to Israel.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu called his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, to declare that "the Israeli side bears full responsibility" for the plane's downing and to warn that Russia "reserves the right to retaliate".
It also said the Israeli planes had "used the Russian airplane as a cover", putting it "in the line of fire coming from Syrian air defence systems".
"By Oct. 10, at the suggestion of the Turkish president, (we agreed) on the withdrawal from that zone of the heavy weapons, tanks, rockets systems and mortars of all opposition groups", Putin said, with Erdogan standing alongside him.
The plane was over the Mediterranean Sea about 35 km (20 miles) from the Syrian coastline, Russia's TASS news agency quoted the ministry as saying in a statement. On Saturday, state media reported that Syrian air defences downed several missiles that Israel fired near Damascus airport.
Russian Federation said it was given less than a minute's warning by Israel ahead of the strikes, which was not enough time to get the military surveillance plane out of the way.
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The agreement halted a threatened Syrian government offensive.
The US official with knowledge of the incident would not identify that country, but it is likely that Russian Federation is the only nation that would know exactly what type of aircraft was shot down. During the U.S. strikes, Syrian missile defences appeared to fire wildly and sometimes without a target.
Sima Shine, a former senior Mossad official and ex-deputy director-general at Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry, told Israel Army Radio that the incident could have "strategic implications" for Israel's freedom of action in Syria. "It's a very mountainous terrain with a very widely dispersed population", he said.
In February, the two-man crew of an Israeli F-16 ejected from their aircraft when a missile exploded near them, damaging their aircraft as they finished conducting a mission against Syrian forces. Israel has reportedly hit more than 200 Iranian targets in Syria over the past 18 months.
Netanyahu, who has maintained warm personal ties with Putin and frequently traveled to Russian Federation for Syria-focused talks, noted the need for Russian Federation and Israel to continue coordinating their action in Syria.
In an initial statement, Russian Federation said: "The Israeli planes deliberately created a risky situation for surface ships and aircraft in the area".
Without the agreement, "there would have been no opposition left", calling it crucial for a lasting political solution.
Speaking Tuesday, Kremlin press secretary Dmitry Peskov said that the downing of the Russian aircraft would not affect the Sochi agreement "in any way", adding that "this is an important, breakthrough agreement".
The U.N. humanitarian chief is welcoming the Russia-Turkey agreement on the last rebel-held stronghold in Idlib, saying if fully implemented it may avert "the catastrophe" of a military onslaught creating "the worst humanitarian tragedy of the 21st century".
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