Monday 24 September 2018 - 10:37

Russia warned Israel against harming interests before downing of plane

Story Code : 751876
Israel's minister for military affairs Avigdor Lieberman and Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu meet in May 2018.

The paper quoted security officials as saying that Moscow recently conveyed a message to Tel Aviv that attacking Syrian targets is against its goal to strengthen Syrian President Bashar Assad’s legitimate government and harms his attempts to end the fighting in the country.

According to the report, Israel has not changed its policy in Syria despite the Russian message.

The Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft with 15 servicemen on board disappeared from radars on September 17 as four Israeli F-16 warplanes were attacking state institutions in Syria’s Latakia Province, which is home to Russia-run Hmeimim airbase.

The Russian Defense Ministry presented its latest findings on the Il-20’s downing on Sunday, blaming “misleading” information from the Israeli air force command for the downing of the Russian plane by Syria’s S-200 missile defense system and holding the Israeli regime fully responsible for the tragic event.

“We believe that the Israeli air force and those who were making decisions about these actions are fully to blame for the tragedy that happened to the Russian Il-20 plane,” Major General Igor Konashenkov said.

Russia also accused Israel of using a hotline set up between the two sides to avoid airborne collisions to mislead Russia about its plans.

Konashenkov said an Israeli officer told them of an Israeli operation in northern Syria while the jets were actually in Latakia, in the country’s west.

“The misleading (information) by the Israeli officer regarding the location of the strikes made it impossible to guide the Il-20 to a safe location,” he said.

Konashenkov also said the Israeli fighter jets deliberately used the Russian plane to shield them from Syrian air defense missiles after Israel hit targets near the coastal city of Latakia.

He also complained that Israel, over the years, has waited until the last minute to notify Russia of its operations, putting Russian aircraft at risk.

According to Haaretz, Israel fears that Russia can influence its military activity through demanding greater warning time, deciding to close the airspace or requiring more advanced air defense systems be put in place as a signal to Israel, among other things.

The Israeli military on Sunday rejected Konashenkov’s remarks, claiming mechanisms to coordinate with Russia were used properly ahead of the Il-20’s downing.

"The Israel air force did not hide behind any aircraft and the Israeli planes were in Israeli airspace when the Syrian [missiles] hit the Russian plane,” the military claimed in a statement.

Russian jets have been conducting air raids against Daesh and other terror outfits inside Syria at the Damascus government’s request since September 2015.

On the contrary, Israel frequently attacks military targets in Syria in what is considered as an attempt to prop up militant groups that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces.