15 killed after Syrian jets shoot down Russian Ilyushin IL-20.
A Russian surveillance plane was inadvertently shot down by a Syrian missile late Monday night, killing 15 crew members.
Russia confirmed the plane, an IL-20 military aircraft, was shot down, and blamed Israel for the incident over alleged poor positioning that pushed the Russian aircraft into Syria’s crosshairs. Russian Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesperson for the Russian military, said, “The Israeli pilots were using the Russian aircraft as a shield and pushed it into the line of fire of the Syrian defense.”
Four Israeli fighter jets launched attacks in northwest Syria. The Russian military says it was unaware of the strikes and received no warnings from Israel until a minute ahead of the strike, leaving insufficient time to safely leave the zone.
“As a result of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military, 15 Russian servicemen were killed, which is absolutely not in keeping with the spirit of Russian-Israeli partnership,” Konashenkov added.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said, “We reserve the right for further reciprocal steps.”
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) released a statement on the incident, in which they said Syrian anti-aircraft units “fired indiscriminately and from what we understand did not bother to ensure no Russian planes were in the air.”
Israel said that the Russian aircraft was not in the area at the time they launched attacks on Syrian targets. The Russian aircraft was shot down later when Israeli fighter jets had left the area.
Syria used the same anti-aircraft system they purchased from Russia in recent years, according to a U.S. official.
“Israel holds the Assad regime, whose military shot down the Russian plane, fully responsible for this incident,” the statement said. It also placed blame on Iran and Hezbollah. “These weapons were meant to attack Israel, and posed an intolerable threat against it,” it added.