IDF Probe Finds ‘Inaccurate Syrian Fire’ Downed Russian Military Plane

Syria downs Russian military plane during Israeli air strike

The Israel Defense Forces announced that an initial investigation into the downing of a Russian military plane following Israeli strikes in the area found that the Russian craft was shot from the sky by “extensive and inaccurate Syrian anti anti-aircraft (Surface to Air missile) fire.”

The IDF further found that Syria had fired the missiles after Israel Air Force planes already returned Israeli airspace.

In a highly unusual move, the IDF directly acknowledged the Israeli strikes, revealing the target was a Syrian Armed Forces facility utilized to manufacture “accurate and lethal weapons” that “were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon.”

The IDF put out the information on Twitter:

Israel traditionally refrains from taking official responsibility for airstrikes outside the Palestinian arena, although news media reports have credited Israel with hundreds of strikes in Syria in recent years.

On Tuesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin to deflate tensions and further explain Israel’s actions.

“The prime minister, in the name of the State of Israel, conveyed sorrow over the deaths of the Russian soldiers and said that the responsibility for downing the plane falls on Syria,” reads a statement from Netanyahu’s bureau.

Following strong statements from the Russian government squarely blaming Israel, Putin later told reporters the downing of the plane was a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”

The Russian plane, an Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft, was accidentally shot down late Monday night reportedly killing all 15 crew members on board after Syrian air defenses responded to the Israeli strike. Ironically, Russian confirmed that Syria used the Russian-manufactured S-200 air defense system in the strike. The system was sold by Moscow to Syria.

The Times of Israel reported on conflicting claims between Israel and Russia about the chain of communication prior to the strike:

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also accused Israel of failing to inform the Russian military of its plans, which he said would have been in the “spirit” of Israeli-Russian coordination in Syria. The Russian defense ministry said Israel warned them of the impending strike “less than a minute” before it began, which left them insufficient time to clear their personnel from the area.

The Israeli and Russian militaries maintain what they call a “deconfliction mechanism,” which is meant to coordinate their activities in Syria in order to avoid incidents like this one. Until Monday night, these efforts had largely succeeded in preventing direct or indirect clashes since Russia became more deeply involved in the Syrian civil war three years ago.

The Israeli military said it had coordinated with Russia ahead of the attack, though it did not address Moscow’s specific claims about the amount of time between the notification and the airstrike itself.

Aaron Klein is Breitbart’s Jerusalem bureau chief and senior investigative reporter. He is a New York Times bestselling author and hosts the popular weekend talk radio program, “Aaron Klein Investigative Radio.” Follow him on Twitter @AaronKleinShow. Follow him on Facebook.

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