Syria Accidentally Shot Down a Russian Military Plane, Killing 15

Russia blames Israel after Syrian forces accidentally shoot down Russian plane

During Israeli airstrikes on the Syrian coast on September 17, a Russian IL-20 surveillance plane with 15 crew members on board was accidentally shot down by a Syrian surface-to-air missile battery that was responding to the attack.

A United States official said Washington believed the aircraft, which is an Il-20 turbo-prop plane used for electronic reconnaissance, was inadvertently shot down by anti-aircraft artillery operated by Moscow's ally, the Syrian government.

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, Israeli F-16 jets carrying out airstrikes used the Russian plane as cover to allow them to approach their targets on the ground without being hit by Syrian fire.

Russian Federation said it would make an "appropriate response" to Israel.

Konashenkov said that Israeli F-16 fighter planes had put the Il-20 into the path of Syrian air defense systems after failing to give Moscow enough warning of an imminent strike on Syrian targets.

The downing of the Il-20 highlighted the dangers posed by the conflicting interests of various powers in the crowded skies over Syria and threatened the close security ties between Russian Federation and Israel.

The Israeli prime minister, in return, offered his condolences over the death of 15 Russian servicemen, who were onboard the downed military plane.

"Two bodies were found", he told AFP, but he could not immediately confirm whether they were regime soldiers or fighters from other forces supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

A Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile brought down the plane, the ministry said.

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Moscow said its plane disappeared from radar screens as it was coming in to land at the Hmeymim air base in western Syria late on Monday, just as Israeli jets and French naval vessels were mounting air strikes on targets in the same area of Syria.

It said Israeli jets had targeted a Syrian weapons facility and were already back within Israeli airspace when the incident happened.

The Israeli military laid the blame on Syrian forces, which it said "fired indiscriminately and from what we understand, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air".

Iran, the third member of the so-called Astana process aimed at ending the seven-year civil war in Syria, praised the deal as an example of "responsible diplomacy".

Since sending forces to support the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2015, Russian Federation has been a dominant player in the conflict, at times struggling to manage the competing interests of the other powers there.

Speaking alongside Russian President Vladimir Putin at talks in Sochi on Monday, Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the creation of a 15-20 kilometer (approximately 9-12 miles) demilitarized zone will prevent a "humanitarian crisis" in the northwestern province. "It will be something everyone will notice", Putin said.

Throughout the fighting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained continuous contact with Russian Federation.

"I think it will impose very serious restriction on Israel's freedom of activity", she said.

Hotlines are in place for key stakeholders to share operational information on their deployments, but diplomats and military planners say there is still a high risk of one state inadvertently striking another country's forces.

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