JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s Air Force provided Russia with misleading information on the location of its airstrikes on targets in Syria, preventing a Russian surveillance plane in the area from moving to a safe zone, Russia’s Defense Ministry announced.
The findings of the Russian Defense Ministry about the accidental downing last week of a Russian plane by Syrian anti-aircraft fire in the area of an Israeli air strike on a facility of the Syrian armed forces contradicts the findings of the Israel Defense Forces on the September 17 incident. Fifteen Russian troops were killed in the incident.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov on Sunday told reporters that Israel’s Air Force provided incorrect information about the location of the airstrike during negotiation on the “deconfliction channel” set up to avoid conflict between Israel and Russia over activities in Syria, the Russian Sputnik news agency reported.
In addition, Konashenkov said that the Israeli Air Force notified Russia of its planned attacks on Syrian targets simultaneously with the beginning of the strikes instead of in advance, which he said was a violation of 2015 bilateral agreements to prevent such incidents in Syrian airspace.
Konashenkov accused the pilots of the Israeli F-16 fighter jets of using the Russian Ilyushin IL-20 airplane as a shield against the Syrian anti-missile system.
The Russian timeline of the incident, which its Defense Ministry backed with recordings and with a minute-by-minute account of the incident made based on objective radar readings, differs from the Israeli recounting of the incident. Israel, for example, said that its fighter jets were already in Israeli airspace when the Russian plane was hit; Russia disputes this saying that the Israeli jets left the area only 10 minutes after learning that the Russian plane had been hit.
“The presented objective data testifies that the actions of the Israeli fighter pilots, which led to the loss of life of 15 Russian servicemen, either lacked professionalism or were an act of criminal negligence to say the least. Therefore, we believe that the blame for the tragedy with the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft lies entirely with the Israeli air forces and those who made the decision to carry out such actions,” Konashenkov said during Sunday’s news conference.
He called it is “an extremely ungrateful response to all that has been done by the Russian federation for Israel and for the Israeli people, recently.”
On Thursday, a delegation of Israeli military officials traveled to Moscow to present the IDF’s situation report of downing of the Russian plane. The delegation returned the following day asserting that Moscow agreed with its version of the events.