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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Israel Reiterates Its Stance on Russian IL-20 Downing in Syria

Sputnik News

15:59 20.09.2018(updated 17:01 20.09.2018)

Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he understands Moscow's accusations of involvement in the Russian Il-20 crash, but reiterated that the responsibility for the incident lies on the Syrian militaries.

"We also expressed our condolences in connection with the death of 15 officers of the Russian army in this plane, shot down by the Syrians. I spoke with the Russian Minister of Defense. Naturally, one can understand their attitude at this time," Lieberman said on air.

"I agree that … it was a tragic accident, but the army of [Syrian President Bashar] Assad is responsible for it," the minister added.

In the radio interview with radio station Galei Tzahal, Lieberman emphasized that Israel has no alternative but to continue operations in Syria to counter Iran's military presence and the transfer of modern weapons to the Hezbollah movement in Lebanon.

"We will do everything necessary to ensure the safety of Israeli citizens," he added.

The minister did not answer the question of what to do if Russia, in response to the crash of the Il-20, corrects the existing coordination arrangements in Syria and takes measures that restrict the freedom of action of the Israeli Air Force in this country.

"We have told Russians that we are ready to provide all information and data. The commander of the Israeli Air Force is coming to Russia. We have nothing to hide here," Lieberman told the Army Radio station.

The defense minister noted that the main reason of the Russian plane crash appears to be "the Syrian Army's excess of self-confidence," and again expressed condolences over the death of the Russian servicemen.

Commenting on the accident later in the day, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova stated that it will require additional investigations and explanations from Israel.

"The tragedy that took place on September 17 will require additional investigations and explanations from the Israeli side, and I am confident that they will follow in the very near future," Zakharova said at a briefing.

"For my part, I believe that the Israeli pilots, as a result of whose actions a threat was created and the Russian aircraft was destroyed, acted at least unprofessionally," she said.

The Russian Hmeymim air base had lost contact with the crew of the Russian Il-20 military aircraft late on Monday during an attack by four Israeli F-16 aircraft on Syrian targets in the province of Latakia.


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