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Despite IDF report, Russia blames Israel for downed spy plane over Syria

The Russian defense ministry rejected evidence presented by IDF officers, who flew to Moscow to show proof that a Syrian missile bombardment was responsible for the deaths of 15 servicemen.

Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov, chief spokesman for Russia's Ministry of Defense, being interviewed during the deployment of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea, January 2016. Credit: Russia Ministry of Defense via Wikimedia Commons.
Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov, chief spokesman for Russia's Ministry of Defense, being interviewed during the deployment of the Russian Navy in the Mediterranean Sea, January 2016. Credit: Russia Ministry of Defense via Wikimedia Commons.

Despite a detailed report by the Israel Defense Forces showing that Syria was to blame for the downing of a Russian spy plane during an Israeli attack on a weapons facility in Latakia, Moscow announced on Sunday that it blames Israel for the loss of 15 servicemen.

In a press briefing, the Russian defense ministry rejected evidence presented to military officials on Sept. 20 by IDF officers, who flew to Moscow to show proof that a Syrian missile bombardment was responsible for the deaths. Instead, Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov said “the actions of the Israeli fighter pilots, which resulted in the loss of life of 15 Russian servicemen, either lacked professionalism or were an act of criminal negligence, to say the least.”

According to Konashenkov, the Israeli pilots who conducted the raid on the Syrian military facility used the Russian plane as cover for their attack. Israel has repeatedly denied the accusation.

The Israeli military has said that it is preparing a response to the Russian charges. It has maintained that a 40-minute rocket barrage conducted by Syria following the Israeli attack—most of which done as many as 20 minutes after Israeli planes were back on home soil—was to blame for the shooting of the aircraft, calling the Syrian military “reckless.”

Konashenkov said that four Israeli F-16 jets dropped GBU-39 guided bombs on a military installation in Latakia.

He said that Israel warned Russia an attack would take place in northern Syria within a few minutes, but that the strike actually took place in western Syria within one minute, making it impossible for the Russian Il-20 aircraft to move to safety in time.

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