Moscow has blamed the Israeli Air Force (IAF) for using the Russian Il-20 aircraft as cover, subjecting it to an attack by Syrian air defense systems.
The information was provided by the Russian S-400 fire control system based at Hmeymim Airbase in Syria, the Russian Defense Ministry stated, adding that Israeli claims rejecting involvement in the Il-20 downing are false. According to that data, at least one Israeli jet flew at altitude of 10,000 meters, sharing azimuth with the Russian plane during the incident.
"Today's data no longer suggests, but clearly proves that the blame for the tragedy with the Russian Il-20 aircraft lies entirely with the Israeli air force and with those who authorized this kind of activity," the ministry's spokesman, Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said at a news briefing, adding that the data allows to track on a second-by second basis both the Israeli jets and S-200 missiles
Following the incident, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Tel Aviv is ready to provide Moscow with all necessary information to facilitate the investigation, claiming that Syria was responsible for the downing of the Russian plane.
Addressing the situation, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu stated, in turn, that his country jam satellite navigation, on-board radars and communication systems over the waters of the Mediterranean Sea, also promising to deliver S-300 air defense systems to Syria in order to secure the safety of the Russian soldiers. According to Shoigu, this move would "cool hotheads" and "prevent ill-considered actions" against Russian military.
Data captured by Russia’s S-400 system proves Israeli jets were responsible for the downing of the Russian plane, the Defense Ministry said, adding that the Syrian missile changed its course shortly before hitting the Il-20.
Data gleaned from the S-400 air defense system deployed at the Russian Khmeimim air base in Syria’s Latakia province has revealed that the Syrian anti-air missile was, in fact, targeting an Israeli F-16 jet before it abruptly altered its course and eventually hit the Russian aircraft. This, and the position of all the aircraft at the moment of the September 17 incident, proves that an Israeli jet was de facto using the larger Il-20 as a cover, the Russian Defense Ministry spokesman, Major General Igor Konashenkov told journalists at Monday's news briefing.
The radar images revealed at the briefing “clearly showed the direction of the flight of the S-200 missile launched by the Syrian air defense system, as well as the locations of the Russian and Israeli aircraft,” Konashenkov said, adding that “it is quite clear that the missile was targeting the Israeli jet.”
READ MORE: ‘We didn’t hide behind any aircraft’: Israel insists its jets not to blame for downing Russian Il-20
However, the missile then suddenly changed its course and “locked on a target with a larger radar cross-section and slower speed,” which was the Russian reconnaissance plane coming in for landing. The Israeli jet, which effectively used the Il-20 as a cover from the attack, then also abruptly changed its altitude and the flight direction, Konashenkov said.
#BREAKING:— Amichai Stein (@AmichaiStein1) September 24, 2018
Russian MOD: New Data shows Syrian anti-air missile was, in fact, targeting an Israeli F-16 jet before it abruptly altered its course and eventually hit the Russian aircraft: "An Israeli jet was de facto using the larger Il-20 as a cover" pic.twitter.com/RmKwzgJEf4
The Israeli aircraft then continued to patrol the area off the Syrian coast, the radar data shows, refuting the claims by the Israeli Defense Forces that their planes had already returned to Israeli airspace at the moment of the incident.
“Today’s data does not just suggest but prove that the blame for the tragic [downing] of the Russian Il-20 airplane lies entirely with the Israeli Air Force,” the major general told journalists. All Israel’s “claims about its alleged noninvolvement in this tragedy that claimed lives of 15 Russian servicemen are false,” he added.
Earlier, the Russian MoD presented a minute-by-minute timeline of the Il-20 downing. It said that the Israeli Air Force gave the Russian side less than a minute's warning before their air raid, leaving virtually no time for any safety maneuvers. Moreover, the Israelis misinformed the Russians about the location of their targets.
Israel expressed its condolences to Russia over the tragedy but repeatedly denied responsibility while pinning the blame on Damascus. On Sunday, the Israeli Defense Force said that the Israeli planes “did not hide behind any aircraft and… the Israeli aircraft were in Israeli airspace at the time of the downing of the Russian plane.”
Following the incident, Russia decided to supply an S-300 air-defense system to the Syrian military.
— Barak Ravid (@BarakRavid) September 24, 2018
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the move an “adequate” measure, aimed at “preventing any potential threat” to the lives of Russian service personnel deployed to Syria, in phone exchange with the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
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