Russia Summons Israeli Envoy after Plane Downed in Syria

Russia Summons Israeli Envoy after Plane Downed in Syria

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu quickly phoned Russian President Vladimir Putin to express his condolences and offered to send his air force chief to Russia with a detailed report.

The military statement said the Israeli delegation would "present the continuous Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to Hezbollah. and to establish an Iranian military presence in Syria". It expressed "sorrow" for the Russian deaths, but insisted the Russian plane had been felled by "extensive and inaccurate Syrian anti-aircraft (surface-to-air missile) fire".

Norkin will be joined by Brigadier General Erez Maisel of the International Cooperation Unit, as well as officers of the Intelligence and Operations directorates of the Israeli air force, according to the IDF.

Monday's attack came just hours after Russian Federation and Turkey negotiated a partial demilitarization of the Idlib province, which is the last remaining stronghold of anti-government militants, including the Al-Qaeda affiliate Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (also known as the Jabhat Al-Nusra).

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin later told reporters that the downing of the plane by Syrian air defenses was a "chain of tragic accidental circumstances".

Syrian media and opposition sources reported Wednesday that several Syrian soldiers who were involved in the downing of the Russian spy plane were arrested and interrogated.

It was the worst "friendly fire" incident between Moscow and the Syrian regime since Russian forces intervened in the country in late 2015 to support Assad whose grip on power had been weakened by rebels and jihadist fighters.

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Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu discussed the matter with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday, warning that Moscow could retaliate with unspecified "measures".

Moscow would beef up security for Russian military personnel in Syria as a priority response, Putin said.

The Il-20 aircraft, with 15 Russians on board, was shot down by Syrian government on Monday after Israeli F-16 jets carrying out air strikes used the Russian plane as "cover".

A photo taken on July 23, 2006 shows an Russian IL-20M (Ilyushin 20m) plane landing at an unknown location. "Sometimes they do hit places that are connected to weapons - that they know of - but numerous attacks are not related to that at all", he said.

Arguing that the military manuevers leading up to their plane being shot down were intentional, Konashenkov said the Israelis "deliberately staged this provocation" and accused Israel of creating a risky situation for both aircraft and sea vessels operating in that area.

In the early hours of Tuesday, Israeli F-16s entered Syrian airspace with a view to striking Syrian military targets in the northwestern Latakia province. "Israel holds the Assad regime, whose military shot down the Russian plane, fully responsible for this incident", the statement continued. "Israel also holds Iran and the Hezbollah terror organization accountable for this unfortunate incident", the army said.

The analyst went on to assert that the shoot down incident would likely serve to enhance Russian-Israeli coordination in Syria.

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