Israel Rejects Russian Claims: Syria Strike Was Coordinated, We Didn't Hide Behind Downed Russian Plane

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The Russian Il-20 electronic intelligence plane of the Russian air force with the registration number RF 93610, which was downed over Syria.
The Russian Il-20 electronic intelligence plane of the Russian air force with the registration number RF 93610, which was downed over Syria.Credit: ,AP

The Israeli military said on Sunday that mechanisms to coordinate with Russia were used properly prior to the downing of a Russian military plane over Syria last week.

The army was responding to allegations by Moscow that it was to blame for the incident, which resulted in the death of 15 Russian airmen.

In a report detailing the circumstances surrounding the incident, the Russian Defense Ministry accused the Israeli fighter jets of using the Russian Ilyusion-20 to shield them from Syrian air defense missiles after Israel struck targets near the coastal city of Latakia in Syria.

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In its statement Sunday, the Israeli military denied hiding behind the Russian plane. The IDF noted that a delegation headed by Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin presented senior Russian officers the full Israeli probe into the downing of the plane, claiming it was “conducted and presented in a thorough, professional and detailed manner.” 

Israel Air Force Chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin meets senior Russian military officials in Moscow, September 20, 2018.Credit: IDF Spokesperso's Office

"The full, precise and factual details are known to the professionals who are dealing [with the incident] in the Russian military, and they clearly show that the deconfliction mechanism was operated on time, as it was over the last two-and-half years. The Israel Air Force did not hide behind any aircraft and the Israeli planes were in Israeli airspace when the Syrian [missiles] hit the Russian plane,” the statement read.

Fifteen Russian airmen were killed when the Ilyushin 20 airplane was mistakenly shot down by Syria's air defenses soon after an Israeli strike near the coastal Syrian city of Latakia. Israel blamed the incident on Syrian recklessness, while the Russian embassy in Israel said the Air Force's actions were "irresponsible and unfriendly" and exposed the downed plane to danger.

An IDF delegation traveled Thursday to Moscow in an attempt to ease the tensions caused by the incident. The delegation, headed by Maj. Gen. Norkin, offered Russian Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Andrey Yudin their view of what transpired, including the information Israel had prior to its airstrike and the main findings of the IDF inquiry into the incident.

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