Russian Military: Israel Carried Out Wednesday Homs Airstrike Under Cover of Two Civilian Aircraft
19:06 GMT 14.10.2021 (Updated: 16:46 GMT 08.01.2023)
© AP Photo / Ariel SchalitIn this Sunday, July 16, 2006 file photo, an Israeli F-16 warplane takes off to a mission in Lebanon from an air force base in northern Israel.
© AP Photo / Ariel Schalit
The Russian Ministry of Defense verified on Thursday that the prior day's airstrikes near Palmyra had been carried out by Israeli strike aircraft.
Rear Adm. Vadim Kulit, deputy head of the Russian Center for the Reconciliation of Warring Parties in Syria, said at a Thursday briefing that the airstrikes, which were launched in the vicinity of At-Tanf near the tri-border area with Jordan and Iraq late on Wednesday night, had been carried out by four Israeli Air Force F-16 Sufa strike aircraft.
The long-range missiles struck a communications tower and the surrounding area near the city of Palmyra in eastern Homs Governorate, killing one Syrian Arab Army soldier and wounding three others, Sputnik reported at the time, citing Syrian state media. Kulit said Thursday that a phosphate ore processing plant had also been hit.
It was reported at the time that Syrian air defenses near Palmyra had attempted to engage the incoming projectiles. However, Kulit said that "The Syrian military leadership decided not to use air defense systems, since at the time of the Israeli aviation attack, two civilian passenger aircraft were in the zone of destruction of the anti-aircraft systems."
Israel has pioneered the use of this new tactic during the Syrian Civil War, using the flights of civilian aircraft over Syria as a way to get around the Russian-made air defense systems used by the SAA, which have a very high rate of intercept when able to properly engage incoming targets. In February, an Airbus A320 with 172 passengers on board was forced out of the sky by an Israeli attack, temporarily making an emergency landing at the Russian-operated Hmeimim Air Base before continuing on to Damascus after the attack was over.
In 2018, Jerusalem was forced to apologize after using a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft for cover during an attack, causing a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile to shoot down the Russian aircraft instead. The attack killed 15 Russian servicemembers, injured 10 others, and also killed two Syrian servicemembers. According to the Russian MoD, the IAF warned them of the impending strike just 60 seconds before the Israeli aircraft lifted off, giving them just minutes to prepare.