Israel accused after Russian spy plane lost over Syria

Pauline Gross
September 24, 2018

The Russian ministry of defence confirmed on Monday it would deliver the S-300 system within two weeks as part of its response to Israel's downing of a Russian II-20 plane last week.

The announcement came after Syria, which now uses the Soviet-era S-200 system, inadvertently shot down a Russian military plane on September 17. Fifteen Russian crew members were killed in the incident, for which Israel denies responsibility.

Russian Federation launched its campaign in Syria to support President Bashar Assad in 2015, and though the involvement turned the tide of war in favor of Syrian government forces, Moscow has tried to play a careful balancing act, maintaining good ties both with Iran and Israel. Syrian government missile defense systems last week shot down a Russian military plane, killing all 15 people on board.

The paper quoted security officials as saying that Moscow recently conveyed a message to Tel Aviv that attacking Syrian targets is against its goal to strengthen Syrian President Bashar Assad's legitimate government and harms his attempts to end the fighting in the country.

Peskov said the new measures were decided on to boost the security of its troops in Syria. Russian Federation will also jam the electronic communications of aircraft attacking targets in Syria, he said.

He also said he disagreed with the Israeli version of events concerning the downing of the Russian plane.

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Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later told journalists that the decision to supply the weapons was "not directed at any third country". The Russian IL-20 found itself, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence, caught in the crossfire.

Shoigu said Russian Federation will also jam military aircraft communications in the airspace next to Syria over the Mediterranean Sea, while upgrading Syria's air-defense command systems.

If delivered, the S-300s would further shift the military balance in Syria in favor of Assad as well as Iran and its allied militia Hezbollah, which have vowed to maintain a presence in Syria even though the war is winding down, over Israel's objections. More broadly, Israel also sees Russian Federation as key to protecting its interests in Syria by preventing a build up of Iranian-linked bases and infrastructure.

Israel said its F-16s had already returned to Israeli airspace by the time the Russian craft was downed and blamed Syria's armed forces for indiscriminate fire. Last week's downing has put Russia's relationship with Israel to the test.

The transfer may lead to Israel being more cautious in the short term, Zalzberg said.

On the contrary, Israel frequently attacks military targets in Syria in what is considered as an attempt to prop up militant groups that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces.

Other reports by GizPress

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