The missile was headed for Israeli F-16 fighters.

Syria shot down Russian aircraft
Syria accidentally shot down a Russian military aircraft.

On September 17 at 11 pm LT, a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft carrying 15 military personnel disappeared from radar while returning to the base of Khmeimim, Latakia province. During the night Moscow released a sad announcement: the plane was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft guns. The shots were directed against four Israeli F-16 jets who, during a raid, hid behind the Russian plane to escape the hits. Russia has declared it as a "hostile act".

The four IAF combat aircraft attacked targets in the Syrian Latakia area arriving from the Mediterranean and flying at low altitude, the ministry said. "Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as a cover to make it a target for Syrian air defense system, so the Il-20, which has a much larger radar signal than the F-16, was shot down by a S-200 missile." The Russian ministry emphasized that the Israelis needed to know that the Russian plane was in the area. In addition, Israel did not warn Russia about the mission in advance. The warning came a minute before the start of the attack and the Russian aircraft did not have time to move to a safe area, Russian media agency said.

The Russian Defense Ministry considers Israel's actions as hostile: "Because of the irresponsibility of the Israeli Air Force, 15 Russian soldiers have been killed and this is absolutely contrary to the spirit of Russian-Israeli cooperation."

President Vladimir Putin commented on the incident at the end of the press conference with Hungarian premier Viktor Orban. "Israel has not deliberately attacked our plane", it is not comparable to fact of November 2015, when a Russian jet was shot down by Turkey. "This is a series of tragic events". Putin also said that Russia will take countermeasures to ensure the security of Russian facilities and soldiers in Syria.

Written by Matteo Sanzani
Image: FOH

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