Israel Has Operated in Syria Since Downing of Russian Plane, Source Says

Sources added that Netanyahu may meet Russian president Putin in Paris in November

Russian President Vladimir Putin shakes hands with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during their meeting at the Kremlin in Moscow, July 11, 2018.
Yuri Kadobnov/AP

Israel has operated in Syria since the Russian plane was downed by Syrian air-defense, an incident that sparked a crisis between Israel and Russia, a diplomatic source said Monday.

The source said that Netanyahu may meet Russian President Vladimir Putin in the Paris convention on November 11. "We believe there's a good chance the meeting will happen there," the source said. "It's convenient, but not yet set." 

>> Russia toughens stance against Israel in Syria skies

Fifteen Russian airmen were killed in September 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.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier this month that he and Russian President Vladimir Putin have agreed to meet for the first time since the incident.

Haaretz's Amos Harel wrote last week that Russia has been taking a more forceful stance toward Israel concerning Israel Air Force activity in the north, ever since the incident in which a Syrian anti-aircraft missile downed an Ilyushin Russian intelligence-gathering plane. The plane was shot down at the end of an Israeli airstrike near Latakia in northwestern Syria. 

Israel said on September 4 that it had carried out more than 200 air strikes in Syria in the previous two years - an average rate of twice a week - with Russia largely turning a blind eye. There have been no reports of such missions since the Russian plane's downing on September 17, however.