The Russian Defense Ministry held a press conference to discuss the destruction of a Russian military aircraft with people on board off the coast of Syria, which happened at the same time that Israeli and French forces were mounting aerial attacks on targets in Syria.
The Il-20 aircraft has been downed by Syrian military forces after Israel jets put it under attack off the Syrian coast, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov stated. According to the spokesman, the Israeli jets deliberately created a dangerous situation in Latakia. He stressed that Israel’s aviation control systems could not but notice the Russian aircraft as it was landing.
“Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. 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,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said.
The Russian Defense Ministry has shared a map of the September 17 attack in Syria.
Israel’s Embassy in Moscow has refused to comment on Russian Military’s statement on Il-20 crash.
Earlier in the day, French military Colonel Patrik Steiger said that Paris denied “any involvement in the incident.”
The Russian Defense Ministry had said earlier that Russia’s Hmeimim Airbase had lost contact with the crew of the Russian Il-20 military aircraft with 14 servicemen on board late on Monday. The aircraft disappeared from radar screens as four Israeli F-16 jets were attacking Syrian targets in the province of Latakia.
In addition, Russian radar registered missile launches from the French frigate Auvergne, which was in the area.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also held a telephone call with Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, stating that Israel is solely to blame for the downing of Russia’s Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft over the Mediterranean Sea, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday.
“The responsibility for the downing of the Russian aircraft and the death of its crew lies solely with Israel. The Russian Defense Ministry used various communication channels on numerous occasions to urge Israel to refrain from conducting airstrikes in Syria, which threaten the security of Russian military personnel,” Shoigu said.
According to the Russian defense minister, the irresponsible actions by the Israeli Air Force led to a tragedy, which claimed the lives of 15 Russian military personnel, “despite all existing agreements on preventing dangerous incidents.”
“The Russian military command [in Syria] had been notified [of the attack] one minute before the Israeli F-16 jets conducted airstrikes,” Shoigu pointed out.
“The Israeli Defense Ministry’s actions are not in the spirit of Russian-Israeli partnership so we reserve the right to take retaliatory steps,” the Russian defense chief stressed.