The commander of Israel’s Air Force, Major General Amikam Norkin, headed an IDF delegation to Moscow this morning, following the downing of a Russian military plane by Syrian anti-aircraft fire, on Monday night. The IDF Spokesperson’s unit told TV7 that General Norkin presented “a situation report of the event regarding all aspects, including the pre-mission information and the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the events that took place.” In addition to the situation report, the Israeli delegation presented their Russian counterparts with intelligence, proving ongoing breaches of Jerusalem’s declared red-line, including: “continuous Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organization and to establish an Iranian military presence in Syria.”
Meanwhile, Russian President Vladimir Putin announced, following the deadly incident, that the shooting down of a Russian military plane near Syria was the result of a chain of tragic and accidental circumstances. According to him, “It looks more like a chain of tragic accidental circumstances, because Israeli plane did not take down our plane. But certainly we have to seriously look into it.” The Russian leader further emphasized that while the Israeli fighter-jets were not responsible for the downing of the Russian plane, Moscow will take action to assure additional safety for its military personnel that operates in Syria. Putin added that “Our [the Russian] approach to this tragedy is presented in the Ministry of Defense statement which has been fully agreed with me. Referring to response actions, they will be targeted at ensuring additional safety of our military personnel and objects in Syrian Arabic Republic. These will be the steps that everyone will notice.” As we reported on TV7 earlier this week, Igor Konashenkov Russia’s defense ministry accused Israel of a “hostile provocation” and threatened retaliation, after blaming Israel for indirectly causing its military aircraft to be shot down by Syria’s Russian-made S-200 anti-aircraft systems, near Syria’s Mediterranean coast. Konashenkov later stated that “Using Russian plane as a cover, Israeli pilots put it under fire of Syrian air-defense systems. As a result Il-20 – which has significantly larger effective reflective area compared to F-16 – was brought down by a missile of S-200 complex.” / “We see the provocative actions by Israel as acts of hostility. As a result of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military, 15 Russian service personnel perished. This absolutely does not correspond to the spirit of Russian-Israeli partnership. We reserve the right to take commensurate measures in response.” In response to Moscow’s accusation of Israel’s indirect responsibility for the downing of its plane, Jerusalem’s former National Security Advisor, Major General in reserve Yaakov Amidror, stressed that “Israel had no knowledge of the Russian reconnaissance aircraft’s intent to land.” Furthermore, General Amidror underscored that the incident’s implications on Russian-Israeli relations are solely dependent on Moscow and is subject to whether it believes the unfortunate incident was Israel’s mistake or its own. He further underlined the fact that the Israeli (American made) fighter jets have no similarities with the Russian aircraft on radar, as the latter is a lot slower and bigger. In addition, Amidror revealed that the Israeli fighter-jets have already entered Israel’s airspace when Syria’s military fired at the Russian plane.
U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis responded to a question about the downing of the Russian aircraft, stressing the incident only “complicates the situation between the Assad regime and Moscow. He believes “it complicates the situation between the regime and Russians. It will have no effect on us whatsoever other than a reminder why we need to support the United Nations Special Envoy and end this thing.”