IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. Ronen Manelis said Tuesday that Israel regrets the deaths of crew members of the downed Russian plane and holds the Assad regime fully responsible. Israel finds Iran and Hizballah equally responsible. Manelis confirmed that Monday night, Sept. 17, the IDF attacked a Syrian military facility in Latakia which housed a lethal, high-precision weapons system that was bound for Iran and Hizballah in Lebanon. Those weapons were destined for attacking Israel and represented an intolerable threat to its security, he said and noted: The IDF and the Russian army maintain a deconfliction communications line that was set up by their leaders to prevent accidental collisions. This system, which had proved useful many times in recent years, functioned Monday night as well.
A preliminary IDF investigation of the incident, which resulted in the loss of the Russian IL-20 with 15 military personnel aboard on Monday night, yielded the following findings.
- Wide-ranging, imprecise Syria anti-air fire brought the Russian aircraft down.
- By the time the plane was hit, Israeli Air Force aircraft were back in Israel.
- At the time of the air raid over Latakia, the Russian plane was not in the area of attack.
- The Syrian air defense batteries fired a random without ascertaining first that there were no Russian planes in the air.
Israel will supply the Russian government with all the information necessary for an investigation of the incident and the confirmation of the a/m findings.