Published: Thu, September 20, 2018
Global News | By Blake Casey

Syria's Assad offers condolences to Russia's Putin for Il-20 plane crash

Syria's Assad offers condolences to Russia's Putin for Il-20 plane crash

Proving just how risky the situation remains in Syria-where the U.S., Russia, Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Israel, France and other nations are all maintaining military operations amid a civil war that has dragged on for almost seven years-the Kremlin on Tuesday is blaming Israel after the Syrian military reportedly downed a Russian military aircraft by mistake, killing all 15 airmen on board.

In recent months Israel has increased its attacks in Syria against the regime or its ally Iran.

Meanwhile, a number of Syrian Arab Army soldiers who were involved in the downing of the Russian aircraft were arrested and interrogated by Russian military police together with Syrian authorities, according to Syrian media and local sources.

Norkin will be joined by Brigadier General Erez Maisel of the International Cooperation Unit, as well as officers of the Intelligence and Operations directorates of the Israeli air force, according to the IDF.

As the war in Syria rages on, Turkey and Russian Federation announced on Monday a joint agreement that will at least forestall an expected large-scale on Syria's Idlib province, now the last area controlled by rebel military factions facing off against the Syrian government.

However, Russian President Vladimir Putin later told reporters that the downing of the plane by Syrian air defenses was a "chain of tragic accidental circumstances". There were 15 Russian troops aboard the plane.

Hours after Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held Syria responsible for the fatal crash of Russia's Il-20 aircraft, President Vladimir Putin tried to defuse the situation by calling the incident a tragic chance event.

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Israel's military said on Tuesday its fighter jets had targeted a Syrian facility it said was about to transfer weapons to Hezbollah on behalf of Iran, and that when the plane was downed, the Israeli jets "were already within Israeli airspace".

The incident was the worst case of friendly fire between the two allies since Russia's game-changing military intervention in September 2015.

A photo taken on July 23, 2006 shows an Russian IL-20M (Ilyushin 20m) plane landing at an unknown location.

The target of the Israeli strike was identified by Syria as a subsidiary of its defense ministry, known as the Organization for Technical Industries, which has suspected ties to the country's chemical weapons and missile programs.

Israel, for its part, denied any responsibility, instead blaming Syria's Assad regime for the incident.

At the time of the incident, Israeli jets were attacking targets in Syria and had only given Moscow one minute's warning, putting the Russian aircraft in danger of being caught in cross-fire, said the ministry.

SANA added that "the regrettable incident was a result of the Israeli usual revelry which always uses the dirtiest means to achieve its low purposes and carry out its aggression in our region". Until Monday night, these efforts had largely succeeded in preventing direct or indirect clashes since Russian Federation became more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war three years ago.

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