Israel deliberately used the larger radar signature of a Russian air force IL-20 to lure Syrian anti-aircraft missiles to destroy that aircraft this past week, repeatedly lied over the incident, was “criminally negligent,” “entirely” to blame for the death of 15 Russian airmen, and has “crossed the line of civilized relations,” according to an official statement from the Ministry of Defense of the Russian Federation.
The Ministry’s statement—released in full on its website—used a three dimensional reconstruction of the events which led to the shooting down of Russian aircraft. Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said that the minute-by-minute account of the Il-20 downing shows Israel’s culpability and either its military bosses’ “lack of appreciation of relations with Moscow, or their control of commanding officers.”
“We believe that the blame for the Russian Il-20 aircraft tragedy lies entirely with the Israeli Air Force,” said Major General Konashenkov.
The Russian Il-20 military aircraft was shot down on September 17 by the Syrian air defense units as Israeli’s F-16s used it as a cover during the attack on the Syrian state, he said.
The Russian statement featured previously undisclosed radar data and details of communications between Russian and Israeli militaries, which showed clearly that the Jews had deliberately used the Russian aircraft to hide their own radar signatures, and had furthermore repeatedly deliberately lied to Russian air force controllers about the events.
On the evening of September 17, the Russian Ilyushin IL-20 with 15 crew on board was circling over the Idlib de-escalation zone on a special reconnaissance mission, when four Israeli F-16 fighter jets left their country’s airspace and flew over the neutral Mediterranean waters towards the Syrian coast.
The Israeli Air Force gave the Russian side less than a minute’s warning before dropping the precision-guided glide bombs, leaving virtually no time for any safety maneuvers, Konashenkov said, calling such actions “a clear violation of the 2015 Russian-Israeli agreements.”
Moreover, the Israeli military failed to provide the location of their jets or properly specify their targets, claiming they were going to attack several “industrial facilities” in northern Syria, close to the Il-20’s area of operation.
The misinformation prompted the Russian Command to order the recon plane back to the Khmeimim air base. “The conversation was conducted in Russian” and the Ministry of Defense of Russia has an audio recording of this conversation, Konashenkov said.
However, the Israeli jets instead immediately attacked the western Syrian Latakia province.
“The misleading information provided by the Israeli officer about the area of strikes did not allow the Russian Il-20 airplane to move timely to a safe area,” Konashenkov said.
Once the Syrian air defenses responded to the initial strike, the Israeli jets then switched on radar jamming and pulled back, apparently preparing for another attack.
One of the Israeli jets then came closer to the Syrian coast and approached the Russian plane, which was preparing to land at that time.
“The Israeli pilot could not help but understand that the effective reflecting surface of the Il-20 is much larger than the similar surface of the F-16 and it is the Russian aircraft that would be the preferred target for an anti-aircraft missile,” he continued.
“The Israelis also know that the Russian and Syrian armed forces use different systems of ‘their own’ and ‘alien’ identification and the Syrian radar stations could identify the IL-20 as a group target of Israeli fighters,” he said.
As a result, the Syrian anti-aircraft missile struck the larger and nearer target. The IL-20.
“The commander of the crew reported on the fire on board and started an emergency descent.
“At 22:07 the mark of the Russian reconnaissance aircraft Il-20 disappeared from the radar screens. At the same time, Israeli planes did not leave their airspace, but stayed in the same area and continued on-air duty until 22:40.”
“The presented objective data show that the actions of Israeli fighter pilots—which led to the death of 15 Russian servicemen—speak either of their lack of professionalism, or at least of criminal negligence,” Konashenkov said.
“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 took a decision to undertake this activity.
“I would also like to emphasize that the actions of the Israeli Air Force fighter aircraft in the evening of September 17 were carried out in the area of ??the approaches to the airfield at Khmeimim, where there are military and civilian passenger aircraft.
“Thus, Israeli fighters created a direct threat to any passenger and transport aircraft that could be there at that time and become victims of the Israeli military’s adventurism.”
He went on to point that it is “worth noting that the behavior of Israeli pilots is radically different from the actions of American aviators in the region. We have a communication channel to prevent air incidents, where the parties inform each other in advance about plans for the use of aircraft in various areas of Syria.
“This allows 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 deployed Russian air defense weapons deployed in Syria, even though during Israeli air strikes in a number of instances there were moments that created a potential threat to the security of servicemen of the Armed Forces of the Russian Federation.
“During the time of the agreements, the Israeli Air Force Command Center received 310 notifications of the actions of the Russian military aviation community near the Israeli territory. At the same time, the Israeli side only gave notice 25 times—always only just before the attacks themselves.
“In the context of constructive Russian-Israeli cooperation in the Syrian direction, it is difficult for us to understand what caused Tel Aviv’s actions. This is an extremely ungrateful response to all that has been done by the Russian Federation for the State of Israel and the Israelis in recent times.
“In view of the above, the hostile actions committed by the Israeli Air Force against the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft cross the line of civilized relations.”
The full statement follows in Russian below: