Israel’s air force chief is flying to Moscow on Thursday to brief Russian President Vladimir Putin on the incident over Syria that led to the downing of a Russian reconnaissance plane.
Syrian missile forces on Monday mistook the Russian Il-20 for an Israeli aircraft, shooting it down and killing all 15 people aboard. Russia’s Defense Ministry initially blamed the plane’s loss on Israel, saying its fighter jets pushed the Russian plane into the line of fire, but Putin sought to defuse tensions, pointing at “a chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has offered to share data with Russia on what was happening in the sky over Syria that day and dispatched his air force chief to Moscow. The official is due to arrive in Moscow on Thursday.
The Israeli military said its fighter jets were targeting a Syrian military facility involved in providing weapons for Iran’s proxy Hezbollah militia and insisted it warned Russia of the coming raid in accordance with de-confliction agreements. It said the Syrian army fired the missiles that hit the Russian plane when the Israeli jets had already returned to Israeli airspace.
Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova on Thursday accused Israeli pilots of “unprofessionalism” and said that Russia still needs to hear more “explanations from Israel.”
Source: The Associated Press