A Russian Il-20 surveillance plane with 14 servicemen on board disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea on September 17 during an Israeli strike on the war-torn country, the Russian Defense Ministry said.
“On September 17, at about 11:00 Moscow time, the connection with the crew of the Russian Il-20 aircraft was lost over the Mediterranean Sea when the plane was returning to the airbase of Khmeimim, 35 kilometers from the coast of Syria,” a defense ministry official told media.
He emphasized that “the mark of IL-20 went off the radars disappeared during the attack of four Israeli F-16 aircraft on Syrian targets in the province of Latakia.”
“At the same time, the Russian radars fixed missile launches from the French frigate Auvergne, which was in that area,” the defense ministry added.
The fate of the Russian servicemen is unknown. Russian forces deployed at Khmeimim Air Base are carrying out a search and rescue operation.
CNN already claimed citing anonymous sources that the IL-20 was shot down by the Syrian Air Defense Forces repelling a strike on the country.
“A Russian maritime patrol aircraft with multiple personnel on board was inadvertently shot down by Syrian regime anti-aircraft artillery on Monday after the Syrians came under attack by Israeli missiles, according to a US official with knowledge of the incident.The US official said the regime was actually trying to stop a barrage of Israeli missiles. A second official confirmed that Israel was responsible for the missile strikes on the Syrian regime,” CNN said in its article on the issue providing no evidence to confirm these claims.
However, it’s highly expected that this version will become one of the key narratives in the mainstream media coverage of the incident.
The IL-20 surveillance plane is an Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) platform, equipped with a wide range of antennas, infrared and optical sensors. Considering a wide usage of anonymous sources “with knowledge of the incident” it’s also possible to suggest using the same kind of sources that the plane may have been shot down by Israel or its allies accidentally or to limit Russian capabilities to provide sensetive data to the Syrian military during the attack.
On September 17, the Syrian city of Latakia came under a large-scale aerial attack, which targeted a power station as well as two facilities belonging to the Syrian military. The Syrian state media said that the missiles came from the sea adding that a high number of them was intercepted. However, according to photos and videos, some missiles hit their targets.