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Russian Aircraft Brought Down in Syria: Hard Road to Peace

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Written by Peter Korzun; Originally appeared on strategic-culture.org

A Syrian S-200 air defense system inadvertently shot down a Russian surveillance plane over the eastern Mediterranean Sea on Sept.17 while countering Israeli air strikes against targets in the country’s coastal Latakia governorate. Fifteen Russian servicemen lost lives as a result. The aircraft was returning to Hmeimim air base.

The Il-20 is a military version of the Il-18 turboprop airliner, which carries external antennae and special equipment to conduct reconnaissance missions. It has a cross section much larger than the Israeli F-16, which operated in the area on that day. It’s an open question why the identification friend-or-foe (IFF) system failed.

Russian Aircraft Brought Down in Syria: Hard Road to Peace

According to the Russian Defense Ministry’s statement made shortly after, the blame lies with Israel as its fighters conducting attacks on targets in Syria used the Il-20 as a cover, exposing it to fire from Syrian air defenses. Israel did use the channels of communication but too late to make the Russian aircraft alter the course. The notification came just a minute in advance. Obviously, Israel is responsible for that.

Gary Koren, the Israeli Ambassador in Russia, was summoned to the Foreign Ministry in Moscow for a talk. Russia and Israel have largely maintained friendly relations in recent years and have certain mutually agreed on procedures to prevent incidents in Syria. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has visited Moscow several times recently to discuss the coordination of efforts in Syria. He was among the guests at a military parade on Red Square on May 9 commemorating the victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Russian President Putin is extremely concerned about the situation but he believes it was rather “a result of a chain of tragic errors.” Indeed, the incident was caused by a mistake made by the Syrian military operating the air defense systems confused by Israeli tactics. It shows how susceptible the conflict in Syria is to miscalculations, such as friendly fire incidents.

It was the third time Israeli forces attacked targets in Syria this month. Any of those operations could provoke a clash. Over the course of the conflict, Israel has delivered many airstrikes against targets in Syria. The actions are illegal from the point of view of international law. And each time Israel takes a serious risk.

Russia will probably respond. It has a wide range of options, including supplies of S-300 to Syria. They could be manned by Russian personnel. A lot depends on the way Israel would react. Condolences are not enough. After all, Israel was the only one who acted on Sept. 17 in blatant violation of international law. There is no ground to believe there was any evil intent but urgent measures must be taken to enhance the efficiency of de-confliction and prevent such tragedies in the future. It’s doubtful that from now on Israel will continue to enjoy the same freedom of action in the Syrian airspace as before the incident took place.

While insisting on its right to use force in Syria, Israel has never really tried to use diplomacy. It’s rather symbolic that on the same day (Sept.17) – the eve of Yom Kippur – the Putin-Erdogan summit in Sochi resulted in great success. The parties reached a compromise on the situation in Idlib. There will be no bloodshed there and no refugee flows will pour into Europe. Russian and Turkish troops are to enforce a 15-20 km deep new demilitarized zone cleared from radical groups of rebels. By Oct. 10, the militants will withdraw their hardware from the area. Russian and Turkish military police would then carry out coordinated patrols of the zone starting October 15.

One should give the devil his due – the leaders achieved a real diplomatic breakthrough, which was welcomed by the Syrian government as a positive development. Add to it the resumption of the UN peacekeeping mission in the Golan Heights thanks to the Russian forces that arrived there in August. By going farther in its cooperation with Russia in Syria, Israel could gain a lot more than by adopting an openly hostile attitude toward the Syrian government and using force against it.

Many ill-wishers had cherished hopes before the summit that Russia and Turkey would clash over Idlib as their interests appeared to be divergent. No way. The parties will boost their cooperation. Actually, the two nations are now involved in a major joint peacekeeping operation. It’s hard to underestimate the importance of this development. The two major actors – Russia and Turkey, a NATO member – join together to save human lives. It happens against the background of Israel, a NATO partner, indiscriminately striking the Syrian territory not caring much about civilian casualties. It is egged on by the US, France, and the UK throwing their staunch support behind it.

The difference in approaches is clear for all to see. It’s high time for Israel to realize that Russia’s diplomatic efforts in Syria enhance, not diminish, its security. With the Russia-Turkey peacekeeping operation underway, it would be logical to bring the UN in and make the peaceful settlement in Syria an international effort with funds provided collectively for the country’s restoration.

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Manuel Flores Escobar

The question is..Why Israel launched an airstrike in Latakia…. Just when a Russian Il-20 was flying in that area?….another Question…Why Syrian air defense(Damascus SAD base) launched a S-200(300km range) towards Latakia… but Not towards Haifa( F-16 Israeli air base)..if Damascus-Latakia( 229,65km)…Damascus-Haifa(144,08 km) ??….because Israeli air force wanted to trick SAD into thinking that they were being attacked by a Drone…( even Syrian sources told about a Drone flying Latakia coast)…and all airstrike was made from Haifa to latakia( and viceversa) flying a low alttitude to evade Syrian radars….SAD radar adquisition operador only saw a plane near Latakia when missile were hitting latakia and acted fast of course thinking that Israel would not be attacking with Russian planes flying in that area having both comunication channels……


All good questions.


What missiles did the French frigate fire, as Russian satellites picked them out also at the same time the Il-20 was shot down?

How could an ELINT plane not see the F16s supposedly lining up behind them?

How come no Russian ships in the Med, just off Syria, could see the F16s?

How did the S200 supposedly fire missiles at an F16, which appeared on his radar as a smaller object, being behind a larger target, the Il-20 coming in to land, which they would have known?

Did the pilots of the Il-20 notice the F16s, or give any warning they were under missile attack?

Russia has a lot of questions to be answered, and President Putin doesn’t want to ask them.

Brad Isherwood

Looks to me like Missiles were slamming into Latakia with Syrian Airdefence going active while IL 20m was flying a track. The Russian crew would know the threat level awareness ….it’s sounding all around them. If Israel had a Submarine offshore which fired missiles. .. The IL 20m might have detected that or something at lower elevation.

Israel shoots the IL 20m down as it has discovered something Israel wants kept dark. The S 200 story could be a cover up


In order to target a plane with a missile, you need to see it. Fighter jets, bound for e.g. Haifa, can easily evade the radar in Damascus if they stay low and hide behind the mountains. The only radar that can look down the coast of Lebanon is in Tartous and I’m certain they can’t track low flying jets as far as Israel’s coast, due to limitations of antenna height.


ust when a Russian Il-20 was flying in that area?..

there is a coinstant monitoring by russian planes


He says in paragraph seven of this article: “After all, Israel was the only one who acted on Sept. 17 in blatant violation of international law. There is no ground to believe there was any evil intent…” What? “No ground to believe there was any evil intent”??? How can you say that with a straight face? There’s every indication Israel had evil intent!

Brad Isherwood

I’m watching for Russian and Zionist Media to repeat over and S 200/Accident!

Russian Military published the S 200 account way too fast…and before Proper Investigation. That’s a sign of Cover up in many Geostrategic /Political cases. Shoigu said Israel was at fault. ….Freudian slip? Next is French warship fired missiles. Now it’s a confusing blurr of what occured.

I have trouble accepting 4 IAF F16i on stand off attack suddenly know a IL 20m is near, Adjusting altitude and speed to way slower IL 20m, And do this dance in mere moments as a Syrian S 200 pops up out of nowhere. US Gov threatened the Survivors of USS Liberty. The US Gov covered up Israhells blatant attack.


Yea. Something really stinks. But I’m sure we are being lied to for our own good. Ahem.


Israel did it as Putin wanted. Israel provoked this scenario in which Putin lost IL-20 with fourteen officers.

Israel attacked three times Syria in one month as Putin wanted. I am surprise if next time Israel design an attack on Syria in which Russia lose commercial airline with 300 passengers. So this will be a new game change.


There’s a risk that the front lines will stop moving forward into non Syrian government held territory and the partition of Syria will begin to solidify in Israel’s favor. This would be a huge victory for the Jews. With Syria as a partitioned crippled basket case. And Israel intact with no negative consequences.

I hope that this doesn’t happen and that the Syrian government coalition will continue to advance.


There will be peace when there are no more Christ-killers alive.

Raptar Driver

“There is no ground to believe there was any evil intent”

Really Peter, are you so sure? Could you say something more nonsensical?


Shitty russian weapons …

Gary Sellars

Shitty Ukropi troll… wassup Khokhol? Still upset that the big boys in the trenches used you as the platoon whore? It must be terrible not get paid for the act like you did when back in Lvov?


try to argue, NAZI!!!

Gary Sellars

You seem to be mistaken. The Ukropi Banderites are the Nazis, complete with Wolfsangel runes and the Black Sun motif.


Hey guys, you are all wrong!

The problem is with russian technology.

When S-200 is not able to recognize friendly plane, this is a piece of shit! This is the well known soviet level of weapons. russians were able to poduce older tanks, cannons in large amount, because for this they needed pour steel. with modern weapons using electronics they had alway giant problems. therfore are not able to produce more then 150 modern aricrafts. and su-57 only 2 peces :DDD not even 2 dozens :DDDDD

so, the s-x00 systems are shits, because they kill also own planes.

Manuel Flores Escobar

Patriot is another shit….i have seen 2 videos one in Dahran in Saudi arabia during desert storm operation…another in Riyadh during Houtti attack…in both cases patriot change their trajectory and fall to the ground!….

Gary Sellars

Don’t feed the troll except to slap him down like the rancid abortion debris that he is…


and you answered me :DDD

Gary Sellars

Only to slap you down like the annoying ass-maggot that you are.


both are shit. or both are not, but also not miracle. but patriot never tokk down yankee plane :P

Concrete Mike

If you want to see shit just look in the mirror.

If you look hard enough youll even see a bit of corn.


you have concrete in your head :DDD

no argue, only barking :))))

Gary Sellars

STFU you moron…. no, that’s unfair to morons….

The S-200 is a system first entering service in the late 1960s…. Russia cannot produce more than 150 aircraft?…. Only 2x Su-57 in existence? (there were at least 10 flight development prototypes)….

What a paramecium….


Watch your mouth, little mouse!

1st independent upon when was developed the system, MUST recognize friendly aircrafts

2nd by syria ussed s-200 is the latest modernized, not export version, directly from russian stores transferred missiles. moreover, were connected to russian AD systems. big shame, that they did not recognize own plane. now is clear, why shoot down the malaysian airplane over ukraine :P

3rd all o you, yes, also YOU had always full of mouth with idiot speeches, that s-200 is enough against ALL american and israle aircrafts. now all of you can see the truth :DDD

4th thanks, i corrected my mistype: 20 SU-57. the rest of my text is true. i suggest you to check, how many 4++ aircrafts has the RuAF? after that bark, if i may please.

Gary Sellars

TLDR…. no doubt it was all drivel in any case, so nothing lost.


i block you, infertile sperm :DD

Concrete Mike

Ukraine shot down that malaysian plane…and you know it


no, russian rebels. i have the video, where their leader is happy, that shot down. in that moment he did not know, that this was civil plane. several days later this rebel leader disappeared.

Gary Sellars

“There is no ground to believe there was any evil intent ”

Yes there is – the pernicious behaviour of the Ziostani war-criminals for which the evidence is legion.

Arthur Smith

Russian friend-or-foe devices are for russian forces only, their use by other countries is unprecedented – TASS https://tass.ru/armiya-i-opk/5585180

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