Moscow said on Sunday that the Israeli Air Force misled the Russian side by providing wrong information about the area of the planned air strikes in Syria, blaming Tel Aviv for the downing of Russian Il-20 military aircraft in Latakia on September 17.
Speaking at a press briefing on Sunday, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov provided more details on the downing of Russian aircraft, stressing that Tel Aviv violated agreement with Moscow on Syria.
“Today, we share detailed information about the crash of the Ilyushin IL-20 airplane of the Russian Aerospace Forces near the Syrian coast on September 17. We will present a minute-by-minute account of this tragic incident that was made based on the objective radar readings including those from the Plotto air information display system,” he said.
According to Konashenkov, the Israeli Air Force provided Russia with misleading information on the area of its airstrikes on targets in Syria, which stopped the commander of the Il-20 plane from relocating to the safe zone and led to its destruction.
“During the negotiations via the deconfliction channel, the representative of the Israeli Air Force Command reported that the targets assigned to the Israeli aircraft are located in Northern Syria … As you can see on the map, the Israeli jets delivered strikes in Latakia which is a western province of the country — and not in the north of the Syrian Arab Republic. The city of Latakia is located on the western coast. The misleading information provided by the Israeli officer about the area of strikes did not allow the Russian Il-20 airplane to move timely to a safe area,” Konashenkov said.
‘Israel’ Notified Russia Too Late
Konashenkov told the briefing that the Israeli Air Force notified Russia of its planned attacks on Syrian targets simultaneously with the beginning of the strikes instead of doing it in advance, thereby violating the 2015 bilateral agreements to prevent such incidents in Syrian airspace.
“Israel did not inform the Russian force about its operation in advance — but rather they issued a warning simultaneously with the beginning of the strikes, which constitutes a breach of the agreements. These actions constitute a clear violation of the 2015 Russian-Israeli agreements aiming to prevent clashes between our armed forces, in and over Syria, that were reached by the joint working group,” Konashenkov said.
He further added that the IAF has on multiple occasions created potentially dangerous situations for the Russian forces located in Syria, emphasizing that Moscow warned Tel Aviv about its air force operations in the war-ravaged country 12 times more often.
Audio Recording of Warning
Konashenkov emphasized that the Ministry possessed an audio recording proving that the IAF had warned the Russian side in the Russian language about the envisaged airstrike on targets in Syria when Russia’s IL-20 was downed.
“The talk was conducted in Russian. The Russian Defense Ministry has a record of the conversation,” he stressed.
‘Israel’ Either Allowed Criminal Negligence or Lacked Professionalism
According to the fresh released information, the Il-20 crew began emergency descending after it was hit by a missile, with pilots of Israeli F-16 fighter jets using the Russian aircraft as a “shield” against Syrian air defenses, according to the Russian general as quoted by Sputnik.
Konashenkov elaborated that an Israeli plane maneuvered toward approaching Il-20 — which was considered as another attack by Syrian air defense systems.
He further debunked claims by the Israeli military that their jets had already been within ‘Israeli airspace’ when the Syrian Army launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane, saying that F-16s left the area only 10 minutes after receiving the information on the downing.
“Israeli military either allowed criminal negligence or lacked professionalism, which resulted in the downing of Il-20,” Konashenkov said, adding that the blame for the crash fully rests with Tel Aviv.
The ministry spokesman further said that Israeli jets may have posed a threat to passenger planes when the Il-20 was shot down, and stressed that Russia has never violated the agreement on flights in Syria with ‘Israel’.