Russian Air Force Ilyushin IL-20 electronic reconnaissance aircraft with 14 servicemen on board disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea, an official with Russia’s Defense Ministry told reporters on 18 September.
Air traffic controllers at Khmeimim Airbase “lost contact” with the aircraft on Monday evening, during an attack by Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia. The Russian maritime reconnaissance aircraft was 35km off the coast of Syria when it vanished.
According to the CNN, the IL-20aircraft with multiple personnel on board was inadvertently shot down by Syrian regime anti-aircraft artillery on Monday after the Syrians came under attack by Israeli missiles, according to a US official with knowledge of the incident.
The US official said the regime was actually trying to stop a barrage of Israeli missiles. A second official confirmed that Israel was responsible for the missile strikes on the Syrian regime.
The US found out about the incident because Syrian forces broadcast an emergency search and rescue radio call on an international frequency. The US then got a direct message from another country about the type of aircraft and circumstances of the incident. The official would not identify that country, but it is likely that Russia is the only nation that would know exactly what type of aircraft was shot down.
A spokesman for the Pentagon told CNN that the missiles were not fired by the US military but would not speak as to who was behind the strikes. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman declined to comment on the reports.
But Russia’s official also said that at the same time, the Russian radars fixed missile launches from the French frigate Auvergne, which was in that area.
Russia confirms its Syrian ally shot down IL-20 electronic reconnaissance aircraft
“On September 17, at about 11:00 pm Moscow time, the connection with the crew of the Russian IL-20 aircraft was lost over the Mediterranean Sea when the plane was returning to the airbase of Khmeimim, 35 kilometers from the coast of Syria,” the official said.
The ministry specified that “the mark of IL-20 went off the radars disappeared during the attack of four Israeli F-16 aircraft on Syrian targets in the province of Latakia.”
The military said the plane disappeared as four Israeli fighter jets were attacking targets in the area.
The Russian Ministry of Defence blamed the Israeli Air Force for pushing the Russian aircraft into the line of fire of Syrian missiles.
“The Russian plane was shot down as a result of the fact that Israeli pilots pushing the Russian aircraft into the line of fire of the S-200 missile of the Syrian air defense system,” said in the statement of Russia’s Defense Ministry.