Published: Thu, September 20, 2018
Global News | By Stacy Ballard

Israel to present findings in Moscow over downing of Russian plane

Israel to present findings in Moscow over downing of Russian plane

The Russian defense ministry said earlier that on September 17 at about 23.00 Moscow time, radar contact with a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 warplane, which was flying back to the Russian air base Hmeymim, was lost over the Mediterranean at a distance of 35 kilometers off the Syrian coast.

The Israeli Army said Major General Amikam Norkin and other top officers will travel to Moscow to "present the situation report of the event regarding all aspects, including the pre-mission information and the findings of the [Israel Defense Forces] inquiry". The irresponsible actions by the Israeli Air Force led to a tragedy, which claimed the lives of 15 Russian military personnel, he said.

"These will be the steps that everyone will notice", he said, without providing further details. His comments came after an Israeli airstrike on a Syrian base in Latakia, during which a Russian spy plane was accidentally shot down by soldiers loyal to President Bashar Assad.

But Nasrallah denied that the target of the Israeli strikes was weapons shipments bound for his group, and accused Israel of using Iran and Hezbollah as an "excuse" while really aiming to degrade Syria's military capabilities.

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Netanyahu has repeatedly warned that Israel will not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in Syria for that reason.

In a televised address, Nasrallah also vowed that Hezbollah, which has been fighting alongside Assad's forces in the civil war, would remain in Syria.

It was the worst "friendly fire" incident between Moscow and the Syrian regime since Russian forces intervened in the country in late 2015 to support Assad whose grip on power had been weakened by rebels and jihadist fighters.

Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Putin in a phone call that the arms warehouse that was targeted was holding "accurate and lethal weapons" that were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah that were to be used to attack Israel and which pose an "intolerable threat" against the Jewish state.

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Officials did not immediately say if the plane was shot down.

Though the Russian military condemned " these provocative actions by Israel as hostile" and said it reserves "the right to an adequate response", President Putin described the loss of the plane as a likely "chain of tragic accidental circumstances", rather than a deliberate provocation.

However following anger among Russia's military brass and threats of "retaliation", Putin "reminded" Netanyahu that such operations "violated Syrian sovereignty" and said "agreements around the prevention of unsafe incidents were not observed", according to the Kremlin.

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