Syria downs Russian military plane during Israeli air strike

BEIRUT: Syria accidentally shot down a Russian military aircraft, killing all 15 crew members, when its air defences swung into action against an Israeli missile strike, Russian and Israeli forces said on Tuesday.
The incident late on Monday was the most deadly known case of friendly fire between Syria and its key backer Russia since Moscow’s game-changing 2015 military intervention.
Russian President Vladimir Putin said it was the result of “tragic accidental circumstances”.
The Russian Ilyushin plane dropped off the radar over the Mediterranean moments after Turkey and Russia announced a deal that offered millions of people reprieve from a threatened military assault in northern Syria’s Idlib province.
There was no immediate word from Damascus, but the deadly
chain of events started when Israeli missiles struck the coastal region of Latakia on Monday.
Israel said it had targeted a Syrian military facility where weapons manufacturing systems.
Israel expressed “sorrow” for the Russian deaths, but insisted the Russian plane had been felled by “extensive and inaccurate Syrian anti-aircraft (surface-to-air missile) fire”. The plane, downed by Syria’s Russian-made S-200 air defence system, had a crew of 15 who were all killed, Moscow said. The Russian military accused Israeli pilots of using “the Russian plane as a cover, exposing it to fire from Syrian air defences”. Israel denied the accusations, saying its jets were already back in Israeli airspace when Syrian forces launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane. — AFP