The Russian Defence Ministry held a special briefing on curcumstances of the Russian Il-20 aircraft crash near the Syrian cost
The Russian Defence Ministry held a special briefing to provide detailed information on the crash of the Russian Il-20 off the Syrian coast on September 17.
The Spokeperson Major General Igor Konashenkov presented a minute-by-minute chronology of the tragedy based on objective data provided by radars including that of the Plotto air information display system.
“On September 17, the Russian Il-20 survey aircraft at 20:31 started special survey mission in the Idlib de-escalation zone. It had 15 Russian servicemen on board.
At the same time, four Israeli F-16 jets scrambled from Israel to carry out a sudden attack against industrial facilities in the Syrian Arab Republic. You can see the flight route of the Israeli jets on the screen. The F-16 jets flew over the Mediterranean Sea to take patrolling area 90 km west of Latakia.
At 21:39 a colonel of the Israeli Air Force Command informed the Russian Command in Syria through the deconfliction channel on the upcoming missile strike. She said that in the next minutes Israel would attack facilities in north Syria.
In a minute, at 21:40, four Israeli F-16 jets dropped GBU-39 air bombs targeting the industrial facilities in Latakia province.
Thus, the Israeli side informed the Russian group about its operation, breaching the existing agreements, not in advance, but simultaneously with the beginning of the strikes.
These actions constitute a clear violation of the 2015 Russian-Israeli agreements to prevent clashes between our armed forces in Syria reached by the joint working group.
You can see positions of the airplanes at the moment of the strike in the Plotto air information display system. The Russian Il-20 is designated in red and four Israeli jets – in yellow.
I would like to stress that during negotiations via the deconfliction channel, the representative of the Israeli Air Force Headquarters reported on the targets assigned to the Israeli aircraft in north Syria. The dialogue was held in Russian. The Russian Defence Ministry has a record of the talk.
The Il-20 commander being in the north of Syria received a task to leave the mission area to the south and return back to the military base.
As you can see on the map, the Israeli jets delivered strikes not in the north of the Syrian Arab Republic but in Latakia region which is the western province of the country. Besides, the city of Latakia is located on the western coast.
The misleading information provided by the Israeli officer about the area of strikes did not allow the Russian Il-20 to be taken to a safe area. Besides, they did not provide location of the Israeli F-16 jets.
At 21:51 the Syrian air defence forces started to repel the Israeli attack and launched anti-aircraft missiles. After the strike, the Israeli jets again took a
patrolling area 70km west off the Syrian coast, set up jamming and probably prepared to attack again.
At 21:59 one of the Israeli airplanes started maneuvering towards the Syrian coast approaching the Il-20 that was coming to land. Syrian air defence units considered it as another attack.
The Israeli pilot did realize that the Il-20 airplane had a much larger radar cross-section than that of the F-16 jet, and it was the Russian aircraft that would be the preferred target for the anti-aircraft missile.
Moreover, Israeli military also knew that Russia and Syria used different friend-or-foe systems, and Syrian radar can identify Il-20 as a group target of the Israeli jets. At this time, the Il-20 airplane making a maneuver for final approach towards the Hmeymim air base turned out to be into the path of Syrian air defence systems targeting the Israeli jets.
It is to be stressed that the Israeli jets saw the Russian Il-20 and used it as a cover to evade from anti-aircraft missile and carried on maneuvering in the region.
At 22:03 a Syrian anti-aircraft missile engaged a larger and closer target – Il-20 airplane. The commander reported on the fire on board and emergency descent. At 22:07 the Russian Il-20 survey airplane went off the radars. Meanwhile, the Israeli jets did not leave for their air space but stayed in the region and continued patrolling in the air till 22:40.
At 22:29 an officer of the Russian group in Syria reported to the Israeli officer at the Air Force command post, “As a result of the attack carried out by the Israeli side, the Russian Il-20 aircraft is in distress. We demand that Israeli aircraft leave the region as we engage our rescue forces”. An Israeli lieutenant replied that he received the information and would forward it to the command.
Only at 22:53 which is 50 minutes after the Il-20 was hit by a missile, a colonel (officer on duty) of the Israeli Air Force Command Centre came on the radio and reported: “We got your information on the Il-20 in distress. We left the zone. If you need assistance, we are ready to help”.
The presented objective data testify that the actions of Israeli fighter pilots, which led to the loss of 15 Russian servicemen, and prove either lack of professionalism, or at least criminal negligence.
Therefore, we believe that the blame for the tragedy with the Russian Il-20 aircraft lies entirely with the Israeli air forces and those who made the decision about this provocation.
I would like to emphasize that the actions of the Israeli Air Force fighter aircraft in the evening of September 17 were carried out in the final approaches area to the Hmeymim airfield used not only by military but also civilian passenger aircraft.
Thus, Israeli jets created a direct threat to any passenger and transport aircraft that could be there at that time and become victims of the adventurism of the Israeli military.
Currently, at the crash site of the Russian Il-20, 27 kilometers west of the port of Banias, a search operation is carried out to retrieve bodies of the deceased, and wreckage from the water.
Israeli pilots behaved extremely different from that of American aviation in the region.
You know that we have a communication channel to prevent air incidents – the sides inform each other in advance about plans for the use of aviation in various areas of Syria. This enables us to take timely measures to exclude any situations that threaten Russian and American servicemen both in the air and on the ground.
The Russian side has never violated the agreement with Israel and has not used Russian air defence weapons deployed in Syria, even despite the fact that Israel's air strikes caused cases that threatened security of Russian servicemen.
During the course of the agreements, the Israeli Air Force Command Center received 310 notifications on the actions of the Russian military aviation close to the Israeli territory.
At the same time, Israel gave only 25 notifications, just before the attacks.
In the context of constructive Russian-Israeli cooperation in the Syrian Arab Republic, it is difficult for us to understand what caused these actions by Tel Aviv. This is an extremely ungrateful response to all that has been done by the Russian Federation for Israel and the Israelis recently.
I would like to remind you that as a result of the operation conducted in the Southwestern de-escalation zone in Syria by government troops supported the Russian Air Force, this summer, the UN peacekeeping contingent deployed on borders between Syria and Israel in the Golan Heights was able to resume its work in accordance with the UN Security Council Resolution № 350 dated 1974.
On August 2, 2018, after a six-year hiatus, the UN peacekeeping contingent accompanied by the Russian military police organised the first patrolling of the Golan Heights area.
This allowed completely to exclude shelling attacks at Israeli territory from the Golan Heights.
Currently, six observation posts of the Russian military police have been organised displayed along the “Bravo” line, which provide security for the staff of the UN mission.
In order to prevent missile strikes from Iran-backed formations, Israel requested to settle situation in the area adjacent to the Golan Heights where Iran-backed formations deploy heavy weapons.
Russia held consultations with Iran, during which Tehran notified that it did not consider it right to aggravate the situation in the area and had no aggressive intentions against Israel.
As a result, all Iran-backed formations with heavy weapons, with the assistance of Russian servicemen, were withdrawn from the Golan Heights to a safe distance for Israel - more than 140 kilometers to the east of Syria.
A total of 1,050 personnel, 24 MLRSs and tactical missiles, as well as 145 pieces of other armaments and military hardware were withdrawn from the area.
At the request of Israel, the command of the Russian group in Syria repeatedly dispelled Israel’s concerns that so-called "sensitive" samples of military items shipped from Russia to Syria may be transferred to a third side.
Israel has repeatedly stressed the importance of the work carried out by the Russian Ministry of Defence in this area and expressed gratitude to Russian specialists.
In 2016, at the urgent request of the Chief of the General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces, Lieutenant-General Gadi Eisenkot, the Israeli side was handed over the Magach-3 tank, captured in 1982 in Lebanon, and kept in Russia.
The tank was transferred in presence of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The Russian Ministry of Defence rendered assistance to preserve Jewish sacred objects and burials in the city of Aleppo.
Interaction was carried out through President of the Federation of Jewish Communities (FJC) of Russia Alexander Boroda.
This work was highly appreciated by the Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
Besides, Israel appealed to Russia with a request to find the remains of Israeli servicemen at specific coordinates in Syria. The search works were organized after Russia agreed the search operation with Syrian partners at the operational level.
The special search operation was conducted in the area of combat operations in the territory controlled by ISIS. Terrorist suddenly attacked the Russian servicemen involved in searching operation. During the battle, a Russian special forces soldier was wounded. Still Russia was ready to carry on the operation.
Against this background, hostile actions taken by the Israeli Air Force, committed against the Russian Il-20 aircraft, go beyond the civilized relations.
Objective data of September 17 events presented to you today show that the military leadership of Israel either does not appreciate the level of relations with Russia, or does not control individual commands and commanders who understood that their actions would lead to tragedy.
Thank you for attention.”