Following the downing of a Russian military plane off the coast of Syria last month, the Kremlin has sought to limit the Israeli Air Force’s freedom of action in the region, the Hebrew news site Makoreported on Wednesday.
Russia, according to the report, is trying to set new rules for IDF operations in Syria — marking a change to the coordination mechanism the Russian and Israeli militaries established when Moscow’s armed intervention in the Syrian Civil War on behalf of the Assad regime began morre than three years ago.
In mid-September, the Syrian military accidentally shot down a Russian reconnaissance plane over the Mediterranean Sea near Latakia shortly after the Israeli Air Force had conducted a strike in the area.
In the aftermath of this incident, Russia claimed Israel had not provided it with enough warning of the strike. Such a warning could have enabled the plane to avoid trouble.
Russia, the Mako report said, is now demanding to be alerted much earlier of planned Israeli strikes in Syria. This, the report pointed out however, might endanger IAF planes and enable Iranian forces in Syria to hide assets being targeted by Israel.
A senior Israeli diplomatic official told Mako that the Russian demand was unacceptable, operationally.
This unresolved tension between Russia and Israel could explain why there have been no reported IAF strikes in Syria in the past month.
Three weeks ago, Mako noted, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, but has yet to receive a response from Moscow.
The IAF has carried out hundreds of strikes in Syria in recent years against targets tied to Iran and its Shi’a terror proxy Hezbollah.