Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Israeli military’s aerial operations in the Syrian airspace are in flagrant violation of the incumbent Damascus government’s sovereignty as tensions are simmering between Moscow and Tel Aviv over the downing of the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft in the western Syrian province of Latakia.
“Putin pointed to the fact that the Israeli air force has been conducting operations in breach of Syria’s sovereignty. In this case, Russian-Israeli agreements on the prevention of dangerous incidents were not observed. As a result, a Russian airplane came under fire from Syria’s anti-aircraft systems. The President of Russia called for the Israeli side to avoid such situations from now on,” the Kremlin press service quoted Putin as telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Tuesday.
The Israeli prime minister, in return, offered his condolences over the death of 15 Russian servicemen, who were onboard the downed military plane.
“Netanyahu promised to provide detailed information on the activities of the Israeli air force over the Syrian territory on that day for the purpose of a meticulous investigation of the tragedy. The Israeli Air Force Commander (Aluf Amikam Norkin) will bring it to Moscow shortly,” the Kremlin statement noted.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has held Israel responsible for the downing of the Il-20 military aircraft by Syrian government anti-aircraft guns, stating that Israeli jets were attacking targets in Syria at the time of the incident and such provocations put the Russian plane in danger of being caught in cross-fire.
“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.