In reply to the Russian Ministry of Defense’s grave accusations on Sunday of the IAF’s culpability for the Il-20 plane crash off the Syrian coast, the IDF made the following statement:
An IDF delegation led by Air Force chief Maj. Gen. Amikam Nurkin presented in full to senior Russian officials the conclusions of the IDF probe. They were reached through an in-depth, professional and detailed investigation. The facts in full and accurate detail are known to the professional persons dealing with the case in the Russian army. They also know that the deconfliction mechanism for preventing accidental clashes functioned in good time (as it has in the last two and a half years). Israeli Air Force jets did not hide behind any other aircraft and were back in Israeli air space when the Syrian missiles hit the Russian plane.
The IDF statement goes on to assert: “Coordination between the Israeli Defense Forces and the Russian army proved itself many times in recent years. Its continuation is a shared interest in the face of assorted regional challenges. At the same time, as we saw in the present instance, arming irresponsible parties with advanced weaponry jeopardizes the region and may cause grave harm to any parties present in the area.”
The IDF statement ends by saying: “The wellbeing and security of the Russian forces in Syria are at the forefront of Israel’s decision-makers and the IDF, as well as a major consideration when operations are approved. The IDF will continue to take all requisite measures – as it has hitherto – for this purpose. The Israeli military will likewise carry on obeying its government’s directives to fight Iran’s unceasing efforts to set up a permanent base in Syria and to provide the Hizballah terrorist organization with lethal and high-precision weapons.”