On Monday night, a Russian Air Force Ilyushin IL-20 “Coot-A” electronic intelligence and radar reconnaissance aircraft monitoring the Idlib province of Syria was mistakenly shot down by Syrian air defense forces after an Israeli air strike on facilities in Latakia, Syria. The Russian aircraft went down in the Mediterranean, about 27 kilometers (17 miles) off the Syrian coast near Latakia, with a loss of all 15 crewmembers aboard. Russian President Vladimir Putin said the downing was the result of a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.” But the Russian Defense Ministry has laid the blame for the downing on the Israelis, saying that they failed to provide enough warning to the Russians to give the IL-20 an opportunity to steer clear of danger.
“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces,” a Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson said. “As a consequence, the Il-20, which has a radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile.” The Russians also claimed Israel only warned them a minute before the attack.
Russian Army General Sergei Shoigu told Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman in a phone call that the fault for the reconnaissance plane’s downing “rests entirely with the Israeli side.”
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