Russia will respond to actions of the Israeli Air Force that led to a deadly crash of Russia’s IL-20 aircraft on Monday night in Syria. This was stated by Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said on Tuesday.
“We have informed today our Israeli colleagues, and I have also informed personally the Israeli Defense Minister that such actions will not be left unanswered by us,” Shoigu said.
The Russian IL-20 that was shot down by Syrian air defence systems as it had been conducting reconnaissance exercise in the Idlib de-escalation zone before the crash, Shoigu said.
“Our reconnaissance airplane IL-20 with 15 crew members on board – that had been conducting reconnaissance duties over the Idlib de-escalation zone to find places of storage and collection of unmanned aerial vehicles which fly from this zone and strike various Syrian regions – was in the strike zone, strictly speaking between Israel’s aircraft – four F-16 planes – and Syrian territory,” he said.
Israeli F-16 jets delivered strikes on Syria using the Russian Ilyushin-20 reconnaissance plane as cover since the Israelis believed that Syria’s air defences would not counteract against that trajectory, Shoigu said. “It’s clear to any specialist the strike was delivered using our Ilyushin-20 as cover because they thought the Syrian air defence systems would not act in that direction,” he stated.
“The Israeli side didn’t issue a warning or, to be more precise, they warned us a minute before conducting the strike,” he said. “They told us they were about to attack facilities on the Syrian territory, and they did it.”
“As a result of countermeasures to the Israeli attack, the Syrian air defence system brought down the Ilyushin-20,” Shoigu indicated.
On September 17, contact was lost with the crew of a Russian IL-20 plane that was returning to the Hmeymim airbase, 35 km off the Syrian coast. The ministry stated that the IL-20 disappeared from the air traffic control radars during the attack of four Israeli F-16 planes on Syrian facilities in the Latakia Governorate.
Meanwhile, The leaders of Russia and Israel have sought to defuse tension after this incident. In a call to Vladimir Putin, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu expressed regret at the loss of 15 Russian personnel but stressed again that Syria was to blame.