Israel rejects responsibility in downing of Russian aircraft

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Damascus skies erupt with surface-to-air missile fire as the United States launches an attack on Syria targeting different parts of the Syrian capital, April 14, 2018.

Earlier, the Russian defence ministry had said that the plane had gone off the radar around 11pm during an attack by four Israeli F-16 jets over Syrian infrastructure in the province of Latakia, a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad. Israeli military officials have previously praised its effectiveness.

Russian Federation summoned Israel's deputy ambassador in Moscow to the Foreign Ministry after Tuesday's incident and Israel's Foreign Ministry refused to disclose what was discussed.

The Russian Ilyushin dropped off the radar over the Mediterranean moments after Turkey and Russia announced a deal that offered millions of people reprieve from a threatened military assault in northern Syria.

Around the time the plane disappeared, the Syrian coastal city of Latakia, near a Russian airbase to which the Il-20 was returning, came under attack from "enemy missiles" and missile defence batteries responded, Syrian state media reported. The "Il-20. disappeared during the attack of four Israeli F-16 aircraft on Syrian targets in the province of Latakia".

In the call, Mr Putin urged Mr Netanyahu "not to let such a situation happen in the future" and told him Israeli air operations breached Syrian sovereignty, Russian media said.

When two or three allies coordinate forces, as Russian Federation has with Syria and Iran, they use communications protocols to identify friendly aircraft in the air.

"These weapons were meant to attack Israel, and posed an intolerable threat against it", the IDF said in a statement Tuesday. According to Russia, Israel only warned it one minute before launching the strikes.

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The Israeli government is keen to prevent what it calls Iran's "military entrenchment" in Syria, and disrupt shipments of Iranian weapons to the Lebanese terror group Hezbollah, which has a presence in Syria.

"It's clear to any specialist the strike was delivered using our Ilyushin-20 as cover, because they [the Israelis] thought the Syrian air defense systems would not act in that direction", Shoigu said.

Syria accidentally shot down a Russian military aircraft, killing all 15 crew members, when its air defences swung into action against an Israeli missile strike, Russian and Israeli forces said Tuesday.

It expressed "sorrow" for the Russian deaths, but insisted the Russian plane had been felled by "extensive and inaccurate Syrian anti-aircraft (surface-to-air missile) fire". According to the ministry, the Israeli pilots used the IL-20 as a shield, putting it under the attack of the S-200 missile system.

He said the Israeli pilots "could not have failed to see the Russian aircraft, as it was coming in to land from a height of 5 km (three miles)". "This is absolutely out of line with the spirit of Russian-Israeli partnership".

'We reserve the right to take commensurate measures in response, ' Konashenkov was quoted as saying.

An Israeli military official recently said it had hit more than 200 Iranian targets in Syria over the past 18 months, with Russian Federation largely turning a blind eye, a situation Israel would want to continue.

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