(JTA) – A delegation of Israeli military officials traveled to Moscow to present the situation report of the accidental downing of a Russian plane by Syrian anti-aircraft fire. The delegation, led by the commander of the Israeli Air Force, Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, left on Thursday morning, Sept. 20, according to the Israel Defense Forces. Russian officials said Israel used the Russian reconnaissance aircraft as cover for an alleged Israeli airstrike on a Syrian air base near Latakia on Monday night. The Russian Defense Ministry called the incident a “deliberate provocation” and vowed an “adequate response.” Fifteen Russian troops were killed in the incident. The IDF said its delegation presented “the situation report of the event regarding all aspects, including the pre-mission information and the findings of the IDF inquiry regarding the event.”
On Tuesday, the IDF acknowledged that its fighter jets targeted a facility of the Syrian armed forces from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.
“These weapons were meant to attack Israel and posed an intolerable threat against it,” the IDF said. The IDF said it holds Syria’s Assad regime “fully responsible” for shooting down the Russian plane, as well as Iran and Hezbollah. An initial inquiry found that the Russian plane was hit and downed by “extensive and inaccurate Syrian anti-aircraft fire,” and that when the Syrian army launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane, Israeli Air Force jets were already within Israeli airspace. During the airstrike on the target in Latakia, the Russian plane that was hit was not within the area of operation.
The Russian Foreign Ministry summoned the Israeli ambassador to the country over the incident. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke on Tuesday before Yom Kippur with President Vladimir Putin of Russia and told him that Syria was squarely to blame for the downing of the Russian military plane, and said he hoped Israeli-Russian military coordination would continue.
CAP: Israel’s air force Chief Major-General Amikam Norkin (Photo: IDF Spokesperson’s Unit )