Published: Wed, September 19, 2018
World Media | By Cesar Oliver

Putin seeks to defuse downing of Russian plane off Syria

Putin seeks to defuse downing of Russian plane off Syria

During Israeli airstrikes on the Syrian coast on September 17, a Russian IL-20 surveillance plane with 15 crew members on board was accidentally shot down by a Syrian surface-to-air missile battery that was responding to the attack. The Syrian air force had simultaneously been responding to Israeli fighter jets that were mounting air attacks on targets in the coastal region of Latakia.

Russian Federation said its Il-20 went down about 35 kilometers from the Syrian coast at about 11 p.m. local time, during the heat of the battle.

The United States is closely monitoring an agreement struck Monday between Russian Federation and Turkey to establish a de-militarized zone in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province, according to the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

The Russian Defence Ministry said that Israel only informed them of a planned operation one minute beforehand, breaking the protocol previously in place as it was not enough time to get the plane to safety.

The Russian Defense Ministry said a recovery operation has already located the plane's wreckage at sea and has retrieved some bodies and some fragments of the plane.

Any dispute between Israel and Russian Federation could crimp Israel's ability to carry out air strikes inside Syria on what it sees as the greatest threat to its security from the war - build-ups of Iranian forces or groupings of the Shi'ite Hezbollah militia.

Russian Federation is supporting President Bashar al-Assad in Syria's civil war.

Moscow/Jerusalem: Russian president Vladimir Putin said on Tuesday that the shooting down of a Russian military plane near Syria's seacoast was the result of a series of tragic and chance circumstances. The Russian Ministry said the meeting was to do with the loss of the Russian plane.

Israel's air force confirmed its attack on Syria on Twitter on Tuesday, saying it attacked a weapons site that it believed Syria would have transferred to terrorist groups to fire on Israel.

The statement also laid blame on Iran and Hezbollah.

Previous strikes in Syria linked to Israel have given a wide berth to areas populated by Russian defences, but strikes on the Damascus International Airport on Sunday and the air battle on Monday have played out near Russian forces.

Iran, the third member of the so-called Astana process aimed at ending the seven-year civil war in Syria, praised the deal as an example of "responsible diplomacy".

Netanyahu, who has maintained warm personal ties with Putin and frequently traveled to Russian Federation for Syria-focused talks, noted the need for Russian Federation and Israel to continue coordinating their action in Syria. Gen. Igor Konashenkov, spokesperson for the Russian military, according to RIA-Novosti. Israel has warned that it will not allow Iran to establish a permanent military presence in postwar Syria.

Separately, Turkey said on Tuesday it would send more troops into Syria's rebel-held Idlib province after striking a deal with Russian Federation that has averted a government offensive there.

In an initial statement, Russian Federation said: "The Israeli planes deliberately created a unsafe situation for surface ships and aircraft in the area".

These operations have until now largely been ignored by Russia, Damascus' big-power backer, and coordinated with other powers conducting their own military operations in Syria.

Mustafa Sejari, a Free Syria Army (FSA) official, said the deal "buries Assad's dreams of imposing his full control over Syria".

Under the pact, Turkish and Russian forces will patrol the de-militarized zone, but neither Putin nor Erdogan spelled out how they would convince rebel fighters to retreat from the area and surrender their heavy weaponry.

Putin said the decision was to establish by October 15 a demilitarized area 15-20 km (10-12 miles) deep along the contact line between rebel and government fighters.

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