Syria mistakenly downs Russian plane as it repels alleged Israeli strike

Clay Curtis
September 18, 2018

It said one of its aircraft with 14 people on board disappeared from radar screens at the same time that Israeli and French forces were mounting aerial attacks in Syria.

A French military spokesman told AFP: "The French army denies any involvement in this attack".

Fate of 14 people on board unknown as military plane goes missing off the coast of Syria, Russian defence ministry says, after missiles from an unknown origin are fired on several targets in Latakia province.

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Footage shared by Syrian state TV claims to show Syrian forces firing missiles from Lattakia, adding a "number of missiles" have been shot down by its air defence network. The aircraft's SLAR (Side-Looking Airborne Radar) and the plane's satellite link allows the Russian military to monitor Syrian skies in real time.

The plane was over the Mediterranean Sea about 35 km (20 miles) from the Syrian coastline, Russia's TASS news agency quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

The military said the plane disappeared as four Israeli fighter jets were attacking targets in the area.

Moscow's RT network reported that Russian military forces had registered the launch of missiles from a French frigate in the Mediterranean around around the time the plane lost contact.

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Meanwhile, a United States official with knowledge of the incident claimed the Russian plane had been inadvertently shot down by the Syrian anti-aircraft artillery after the Syrians came under attack by Israeli missiles.

CNN quoted the U.S. official as saying the Syrian army was actually trying to stop a barrage of Israeli missiles, and a second official confirmed that Israel was responsible for the missile strikes on the Syrian positions.

Russian Federation intervened in the Syrian conflict to prop up the government of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in 2015.

SANA news agency reported the Technical Industry Institution in the state-controlled city of Latakia had been targeted. State media said the explosions were suspected to have been caused by Israeli strikes.

Russia's claim was contradicted by USA reports that said Syria's air defenses were "largely ineffective" in response to its "precise and overwhelming" strikes.

In March 2018, 39 people died when a Russian transport plane crashed while coming in to land at the Hmeimim base; and in December 2016 a TU-154 on its way to Syria crashed, killing 92 people including army musicians and dancers.

After more than four hours of talks with Russian President Vladimir Putin at his residence in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Turkish leader Recep Tayyip Erdogan said their two countries would "prevent a humanitarian tragedy".

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