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Il-20 Accidentally Downed by Syria: Putin Calls Incident Tragic Chain of Events

© Photo : arms-expo.ruIL-20
IL-20 - Sputnik International
A Russian military aircraft went off radar near Hmeymim Airbase on Monday, which coincided with Israeli strikes on Syrian targets in Latakia. On Tuesday, the Russian MoD stated that the plane was downed by Syrian air defenses after Israeli jets used it as cover. In light of the revelations, Sputnik has rounded up the key details about the incident.

Missiles Strike Infrastructure in Latakia

On Monday evening, Syrian media reported missile strikes on the province of Latakia, with some rockets hitting parts of the city, while many projectiles were successfully intercepted by Syrian air defenses.

READ MORE: Syria Downs Russian IL-20 by Mistake Amid Israeli Raid, Moscow Blames Tel Aviv

"Syria's air defense systems have responded to an air attack in Latakia. Most likely there were drones and missiles involved," a source told Sputnik, while another source from the Syrian military suggested that the attack was perpetrated from the sea.

Reacting to the reports, the Russian military stated that airspace control radar systems had detected missile launches from the French frigate Auvergne in the Mediterranean. Later on Tuesday, French military Colonel Patrik Steiger said that Paris denied "any involvement in the incident."

Russian Plane Goes Off Radars

Shortly afterwards, the Russian Ministry of Defense reported that the Russian Il-20 aircraft vanished from radar near Hmeymim Airbase in Syria with 15 servicemen on board.

"On September 17, at about 11 p.m. Moscow time [20:00 GMT], the communication with the crew of the Russian Il-20 aircraft was lost when it was over the Mediterranean Sea, some 35 kilometers from the Syrian coast, on its way back to Hmeymim Airbase.”

Addressing the missing plane, the ministry stated that it had identified four Israeli F-16 jets carrying out airstrikes on targets in Latakia. An Israeli Defense Forces spokesman, however, refused to comment on the foreign reports.

US Media Report Russian Jet Was Accidentally Shot Down by Syria

In the aftermath of the incident, CNN cited an unnamed US official with knowledge of the situation as saying that the Il-20 plane was accidentally downed by the Syrian military's anti-aircraft artillery when Damascus tried to “stop a barrage of Israeli missiles.”

READ MORE: F-16s Were Already in Israeli Airspace When Syria Hit Russian Aircraft — IDF

Russian MoD Accuses Israel of Provoking Plane's Downing

During a presser earlier in the day, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov stated that the Russian aircraft was indeed downed by Syrian air defenses after Israeli F-16s used it as a shield.

"Using the Russian plane as a shield, the Israeli pilots put it in the fire of Syrian air defense systems… the Il-20… was hit by the S-200 system's missile," Konashenkov stated.

Search Op Underway

Stressing that the search-and-rescue operation near the crash site was underway, Konashenkov said 15 Russian servicemen had died as a result of the "irresponsible actions" of the IDF, which violated "the spirit of the Israeli-Russian partnership."

“Eight ships, including Russian Naval cutters and supply vessels, are participating in the operation to locate the crew of the Russian Il-20 aircraft which crashed off the coast of Latakia," the ministry said.

He further branded “these provocative actions” by Israel as “hostile,” adding that the MoD reserved the right to an “adequate” response.

READ MORE: Downed IL-20 Was on Recon Mission Over Idlib De-Escalation Zone – Russian MoD

Shortly after, the ministry announced that as a result of the search mission, the bodies of the crew had been located and pulled up on board the ships.

Syria Has No Comments, IDF Blames Damascus

In light of the Russian MoD's statements, the Syrian army has not provided any comments so far.  Meanwhile, the IDF broke its silence via Twitter to address the incident, which it blamed on Syrian forces, and promised to share “all the relevant information with the Russian government.” At the same time, Israel appeared to have recognized that it had struck military infrastructure in Latakia.

Putin: Israel Didn't Down Il-20, It Was a Chain of Tragic Accidental Circumstances

During a press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Victor Orban later on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said that Israel didn't down the Russian plane; it was a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances” that led to the crash.

"When people die, especially in such tragic circumstances, it is always a tragedy, a tragedy for us all, for the whole country and for the families of our dead friends. In this connection, I certainly offer my condolences to the relatives of those who were killed in the crash,” Putin said.

President Vladimir Putin holds a jont press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban - Sputnik International
Putin: Israel Didn't Down Il-20, Chain of Tragic Circumstances Led to Incident
"Most certainly, we have to sort the case out most seriously. And our attitude to the tragedy is outlined in the Russian Defense Ministry's statement," he stressed.

The president promised to boost the security of Russian military personnel in Syria.

"Russia's retaliatory measures with regard to the Il-20 downing will be directed primarily at stepping up security of Russian military officers in Syria, our military facilities in the Syrian Arab Republic. These will be the steps everyone will notice," he emphasized.

According to Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Putin will likely hold a phone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu later in the day.

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