Major General Igor Konashenkov, the chief spokesman for the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation, made the remarks on Sunday, stressing that a minute-by-minute account of the incident showed that Israel was culpable for what happened for the Russian aircraft.
“We believe that the blame for the Russian Il-20 aircraft tragedy lies entirely with the Israeli Air Force,” Konashenkov said before giving a detailed account of events leading to the downing of the aircraft on September 17 by Syria’s S-200 missile defense system, Presstv Reported.
The Russian plane with 15 servicemen was circling over Idlib’s de-escalation zone on a special reconnaissance mission, when four Israeli F-16 warplanes left the regime’s airspace and flew over the neutral Mediterranean waters towards the Syrian coast.
Konashenkov said the Russian military received a call from Israeli command warning that its warplanes were about to strike “north of Syria”, where the doomed plane was monitoring. But the Russian aircraft had only less than a minute for any safety maneuvers to return to its base, before Israeli jets dropped their precision-guided glide bombs in Latakia, he added.
“The misleading (information) by the Israeli officer regarding the location of the strikes made it impossible to guide the Il-20 to a safe location,” he said.
As the Il-20 was landing near Latakia, one of the Israeli jets “began to maneuver” at 1859 GMT “getting closer to the Il-20”, which was interpreted as a repeat attack by the Syrian air defense and resulted in it being shot down, Konashenkov added.
He explained that the intentional close proximity of the Israeli jet to the Russian aircraft deceived the Arab country’s air defense units and showed the reconnaissance plane as a group of Israeli jets on the Syrian radars, effectively used the big aircraft as a “shield.”
Actions by the Israeli pilots “either speak of their unprofessionalism or criminal negligence at the very least,” Konashenkov said, adding, “The military leadership of Israel either has no appreciation for the level of relations with Russia, or has no control over individual commands or commanding officers who understood that their actions would lead to tragedy.”
He also said “adventurism” of the Israeli military could have even put in danger civilian planes which use the same airspace to land at the nearby Hmeimim airbase, run by the Russian military.
Furthermore, the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv said the actions of the Israeli air force were "irresponsible and unfriendly" and exposed the Il-20 aircraft to danger.
Additionally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad blamed Tel Aviv for the tragic deaths of Russian servicemen, stressing that the “unfortunate incident” was a result of “Israeli arrogance and depravity."
Russian jets have been conducting air raids against Daesh and other terror outfits inside Syria at the Damascus government’s request since September 2015.
The strikes have helped Syrian forces advance against anti-Damascus militants, who have been wreaking havoc in the Arab country since 2011.
On the contrary, Israel frequently attacks military targets in Syria in what is considered as an attempt to prop up militant groups that have been suffering heavy defeats against Syrian government forces.