“A minute-by-minute account of the Il-20 downing shows Israel’s culpability and either its military bosses’ lack of appreciation of relations with Moscow, or their control of commanding officers, the Russian defense ministry said.
“We believe that the blame for the Russian Il-20 aircraft tragedy lies entirely with the Israeli Air Force,” said spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov, before revealing a detailed account of events leading to the downing of the Russian Il-20 military aircraft on September 17. The plane was shot down by the Syrian air defense units as Israeli’s F-16s effectively used it as a cover during the attack on its neighbor.
The report featured previously undisclosed radar data and details of communications between Russian and Israeli militaries, and concluded that “the military leadership of Israel either has no appreciation for the level of relations with Russia, or has no control over individual commands or commanding officers who understood that their actions would lead to tragedy.”
On the evening of September 17, the Russian Ilyushin IL-20 with 15 crew on board was circling over the Idlib de-escalation zone on a special reconnaissance mission, when four Israeli F-16 fighter jets left their country’s airspace and flew over the neutral Mediterranean waters towards the Syrian coast. The Israeli Air Force gave the Russian side less than a minute’s warning before dropping the precision-guided glide bombs, leaving virtually no time for any safety maneuvers, Konashenkov said, calling such actions “a clear violation of the 2015 Russian-Israeli agreements.”
Moreover, the Israeli military failed to provide the location of their jets or properly specify their targets, claiming they were going to attack several ‘industrial facilities’ in northern Syria, close to the Il-20’s area of operation. The misinformation prompted the Russian Command to order the recon plane back to the Khmeimim air base. The Israeli jets, however, instead almost immediately attacked the western Syrian Latakia province.
The Israeli pilot must have been well aware of the fact that the Il-20 has a much larger radar cross-section than his F-16, and would become a “preferred target” for the Syrian air defense units, who use different friend-or-foe systems with the Russians, Konashenkov said. Thus, for the Syrians, the reconnaissance plane could appear as a group of Israeli jets.”