Russian Federation to supply Syria with anti-aircraft system after spy plane downed

Mike Pompeo

Russian Federation laid the blame on Israel, saying Israeli fighter jets had pushed the plane into Syria's line of fire.

The Russian Defense Ministry has said that the Il-20 plane with 15 servicemen on board was shot down by mistake on September 17 by a Syrian missile due to a simultaneous Israeli air strike that confused Syria's S-200 air defense system.

The Russian IL-20 found itself, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence, caught in the crossfire. Although Putin had sought last week to tamp down tensions over the downing of the plane, calling the incident an "accident", he told Assad that he "held Israel responsible" for the deaths of the 15 Russian service members, the statement said.

Russia has chose to arm its Syrian partners with an advanced anti-aircraft weapons system and to target the electronic systems of any military aircraft that launches strikes in Syrian territory, the Russian defence ministry said Monday in response to losing a spy plane last week.

Israel strongly disputed the assertion and vowed it will continue to act against Iranian targets in neighboring Syria.

Russian Federation intends to "transfer the modern S-300 air defence system to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks", he said.

Russian officials said the move is part of President Putin's plan to bolster security for Russian troops in Syria.

Russian Federation last month hinted it would supply the weapons to President Bashar al-Assad, over Israeli objections, after Western military strikes on Syria.

Vladimir Putin has given Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad a new air defence system following the downing of a Russian plane that Moscow blamed on Israeli pilots.

Earlier in the war, Russian Federation suspended a supply of S-300s, which Israel feared Syria could use against it. Mr Shoigu said Russian Federation is now going to go ahead with the shipment because "the situation has changed". Russian Federation blamed Israel for creating unsafe conditions that caused the crash.

The "adventurism" of the Israeli military could have endangered civilian planes which use the same airspace to land at the nearby Hmeimim aerodrome, the officer said. Liability falls on Israel, the ministry said, because warning of the strike came just one minute in advance.

Konashenkov also said that data showed that the Israeli jets remained over the Mediterranean Sea off Syria's coast after the Russian plane was downed.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov later told journalists that the decision to supply the weapons was "not directed at any third country".

Russian Federation launched its campaign in support of President Bashar Assad in 2015, eventually turning the tide of war in favour of Syrian government forces.

It has long lobbied Moscow not to provide the S-300 system to Syria. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had earlier said that Israel's fighter jets "targeted a facility from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon".

Although Russia suggested that its immediate goal in supplying the missiles would be to protect Russian aircraft from accidental shoot-downs, the S-300s will also give Syria enhanced capacity to take on any of the other countries flying sorties in its crowded skies, including the United States and its allies in the coalition against the Islamic State.

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