Israeli Army Expresses 'Sorrow' for Russian Deaths, Blames Hezbollah, Syria and Iran

Adjust Comment Print

A Russian reconnaissance aircraft was brought down by a Syrian missile over the Mediterranean early Tuesday, killing all 15 people on board, the Russian defence ministry said. The Syrian air force had simultaneously been responding to Israeli fighter jets that were mounting air attacks on targets in the coastal region of Latakia.

"By using the Russian plane as cover the Israeli air pilots made it vulnerable to Syrian air defense fire".

Turkey will send more troops into Syria's Idlib province after striking a deal with Russian Federation that has averted a government offensive and delighted rebels who said it kept the area out of President Bashar al-Assad's hands.

Russian Federation said it was given less than a minute's warning by Israel ahead of the strikes, which was not enough time to get the military surveillance plane out of the way.

In the call, Mr Putin urged Mr Netanyahu "not to let such a situation happen in the future" and told him Israeli air operations breached Syrian sovereignty, Russian media said.

Fifteen Russian servicemen aboard the plane were killed, Konashenkov said as a result of "irresponsible actions" by the Israeli Defense Force that violated the "spirit of the Israeli-Russian partnership".

Russia, which is allied with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, opposes an all-out assault on Idlib province, because the onus of the campaign's success would fall on them, Lister said.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets were targeting a Syrian military facility involved in providing weapons for Iran's proxy Hezbollah militia, noting that it warned Russian Federation of the coming raid in line with de-confliction agreements.

The Russian defence ministry said body fragments, personal belongings and the plane's debris had been found by search ships in the Mediterranean on Tuesday.

The Israel military said that overnight its fighter jets had "targeted a facility of the Syrian armed forces from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon".

Netanyahu, who has maintained warm personal ties with Putin and frequently traveled to Russian Federation for Syria-focused talks, noted the need for Russian Federation and Israel to continue coordinating their action in Syria.

Previous strikes in Syria linked to Israel have given a wide berth to areas populated by Russian defences, but strikes on the Damascus International Airport on Sunday and the air battle on Monday have played out near Russian forces.

He said the agreement to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib "should avert a full-scale military operation and provide reprieve for millions of civilians", a United Nations statement said.

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke to Putin by phone on Tuesday and blamed Syria for the aircraft's downing but offered "all necessary information" for the investigation into the incident, Netanyahu's office said.

Turkey's top diplomat says an agreement reached with Russian Federation over the northwestern Syrian province of Idlib ensures the continuity of Syria's moderate opposition.

Putin said the decision was to establish by October 15 a demilitarized area 15 to 20 km (10-12 miles) deep along the contact line between rebel and government fighters.

Foreign powers involved in the protracted conflict - including Israel and Russian Federation - operate hotlines to exchange operational details to avoid one side accidentally attacking the other's forces.

Following a meeting in Sochi between Erdogan and Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, the two countries agreed on Monday to establish a demilitarized zone in Idlib, Syria's last opposition stronghold.

Which party would you vote for President in the 2019 general election?