On September 18, the Russian Defense Ministry revealed additional details on the IL-20 disappearance over the Mediterranean Sea last evening.
According to Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov, the plane was shot down by Syria’s S-200 air defense system because Israel’s F-16 fighters used it as a cover.
“By using the Russian plane as a cover the Israeli air pilots made it vulnerable to Syrian air defense fire. As a result, the Ilyushin-20, its reflective surface being far greater than that of F-16, was downed by a missile launched with the S-200 system,” Konashenkov said. “The bombing raid was not far from France’s frigate The Auvergne and in close proximity to the UIyushin-20 plane of Russia’s Aerospace Force that was about to land.”
Konashenkov added that Israeli warplanes had been carrying out strikes in the area of Latakia and deliberately created a dangerous situation for surface ships and aircraft in that area. He added that Russia reserves the right to give a due response.
“We see these provocative actions of Israel as hostile,” Konashenkov said. “Israel did not warn the command of the Russian troops in Syria about the planned operation. We received a notification via a hotline less than a minute before the strike, which did not allow the Russian aircraft to be directed to a safe zone.”
Israel’s Embassy in Moscow has refused to comment on the Russian statement on the IL-20 incident.
Meanwhile, Rusisan forces found the crash site of the downed IL-20. It’s located in the sea 27km west of the settlement of Banias, the province of Latakia. 8 vessels are participating in the search and rescue operation.