Russian MoD : Israel entirely to blame for the downing of the IL-20 aircraft. Israel still blames Syria
Russian Defence Ministry Spokesperson Major General Igor Konashenkov presented today a detailed account of Moscow's version of the events that led to the crash of the IL-20 aircraft off the Syrian coast on September 17th.
He stated that the responsibility for this tragedy lies completely with the Israeli air forces, and that Israel grossly violated the terms of their agreed deconfliction channel.
Here is the timeline according to the Russian MoD :
- 20:31 : The Russian IL-20 plane starts a mission over the Idlib province.
- 21:39: Israel informs Russia about an upcoming strike in northern Syria.
- 21:40 : four Israeli F-16 start striking Syrian facilities in Latakia province, in western Syria.
- 21:51 : Syrian air defence start firing at the Israeli fighter jets, who then fly back to a patrolling area 70 km off Syrian coast.
- 21:59 : one of the Israeli planes maneuver intentionally towards the IL-20 which was approaching to land in Hmeymim air base.
- 22:03 : Syrian air defence missile strikes the Russian IL-20, which goes off radar at 22:07
- 22:40 : Israeli jets leave the area
The two points leading Russia to accuse Israel are the late and misleading warning about the upcoming strike and the conscious maneuver of the fighter jet to take cover behind the IL-20.
The warning came only one minute before the strike, indicated a wrong geographical target area (North instead of West), and did not mention the location of the F-16 jets. The Russian MoD claims to have a record of the talk.
A possible weak point of the Russian version is that it alleges that Russia and Syria use different friend-or-foe systems, which contradicts earlier official statements claiming that an integrated air defense system is already in place.
The Israel Defense Forces reacted on Twitter to the Russian declarations, saying that the Commander of the Israeli Air Force Major General Amikam Norkin presented his detailed version of the events to Russian military officers, however the report was not made public. Israel maintains that it operated within the scope of the deconfliction mechanism and did not hide behind the Russian aircraft. Contradicting the radar evidence presented by the Russians, IDF reaffirmed that their fighter jets were already back in Israeli airspace when the IL-20 was hit. Israel blamed Syria for firing indiscriminate anti-aircraft missiles, as well as Iran for supplying weapons to Hezbollah.
- Special briefing on circumstances of the Russian Il-20 aircraft crash near the Syrian cost, Russian Ministry of Defence, September 23, 2018
- Russia and Syria create joint air defense system, TASS news agency, August 25, 2017
- Official IDF statements about the downing of the Russian plane, Israel Defense Forces twitter account, September 23, 2018