Moscow blames Israel for shooting down of Russian aircraft in Syria


On September 17, Syrian air defenses mistakenly shot down a Russian military plane following an Israeli raid in Syria, killing 15 people.

Military deconfliction, given the extent of both Israeli and Russian military operations in Syria, thus has been as useful to Israel as it has been to Russia. Israel has launched at least 200 strikes at Iranian and Hezbollah facilities in Syria over the past years, and has maintained a hotline with the Russian military to prevent any collisions. It has long lobbied Moscow not to provide the S-300 system to Syria.

He told Putin that supplying advanced weapons systems to "irresponsible players" would heighten dangers in the region.

"Responsibility for the unfortunate incident lies with the Syrian army, which downed the plane, and Iran, whose aggression destabilizes (the region)", Netanyahu's statement said. These strikes have killed more than 100 Iranian fighters in Syria in the last month alone, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reports.

He added that he and Putin had agreed that representatives from the Israeli and Russian armies would meet soon to discuss continued coordination in Syria.

The S-300 missile system, originally developed by the Soviet military, but since modernized and available in several versions with significantly different capabilities, fires missiles from trucks and is created to shoot down military aircraft and short and medium-range ballistic missiles.

The S-300 missiles are mounted on a truck in tubes, giving the weapons the look of a logging truck and an ability to move about to avoid attacks.

Israel says Iran has spent the last few years trying to establish a military presence in Syria that could serve as a potential forward attacking base against the Jewish state.

Still, Israel worries that the advanced missile system could make it more hard for them to target Iranian positions inside Syria.

Also speaking at the news conference, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reiterated that S-300 systems' supplies were "not directed at any third country".

"According to information of our military experts, the reason (behind the downing) were premeditated actions by Israeli pilots which certainly can not but harm our relations", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists.

The fact that Iran has already taken hold of the S-300, and used it to defend its nuclear sites, also likely served as a good reason for Israel to figure out ways of overcoming the system.

"Since the tragic events in the Syrian skies, I have spoken twice with President Putin, expressing deep sorrow about the loss of lives of the Russian Federation crew on the plane, that was irresponsibly shot down by Syrian fire", Netanyahu said.

Russian antiicraft missile systems - the S-300, right, and the S-400 - on display at a military industrial exhibition in Zhukovsky, in the Moscow region, on August 14, 2014.

Speaking at the airport before travelling to NY for the United Nations General Assembly, Netanyahu stressed Israel's "great success" in preventing Iranian military entrenchment in Syria and the transfer of advanced arms to Hezbollah in Lebanon over the past three years.