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Defense ministry: Belgian F-16 jets that bombed Hassadjek were refueled by US plane

October 20, 2016, 15:06 UTC+3

Belgian F-16 aircraft that bombed Hassadjek took off from airfield in Jordan

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Belgian F-16 fighter jet

Belgian F-16 fighter jet

© AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert

MOSCOW, October 20. /TASS/. Russian and Syrian radar data confirm Belgian warplanes attacked the village of Hassadjek near Aleppo, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told the media.

"Russia has at its disposal effective air defense means capable of monitoring the situation in Syria’s entire airspace round the clock. Syria’s own air defense systems have been restored over the past year and they control air situation, too," Konashenkov said.

"Later today we will provide information about the flight paths and manoeuvers of Belgian and US warplanes in Syria’s airspace on October 18," he said.

The American side did not inform Russia of the flight of Belgian aircraft on October 18, when a strike was delivered on the village of Hassadjek, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said Thursday.

"During exchanges, American colleagues, in order to avoid some incidents in the air, as a rule inform us of the plans of their flights in Syria. But regarding the flight of Belgian aircraft on October 18, there was no notification on their part," Konashenkov underscored.

He said that the Russian Aerospace Forces’ command at the Hmeymim airbase has for a long time maintained working contacts with the international coalition’s air command.

Earlier, Belgian Defense Minister Steven Vandeput said Belgium’s Air Force did not make strikes on October 18 on civilian facilities near Aleppo that resulted in the death of six people. 

On October 18, Russia’s center for reconciliation of the warring sides in Syria reported that an air strike on the village of Hassadjek near Aleppo in Syria killed six people and wounded another four. Russian Aerospace Forces and Syrian Air Force aircraft were not in that area, but there were Belgian fighters there.

The US coalition in Syria has had six F-16 fighter-bombers of Belgium’s Air Force since July this year, which, as earlier reported by Belgium’s Defense Ministry, "fulfill the entire range of military operations".

Belgian F-16 jets took off from airfield in Jordan 

Two Belgian F-16 fighter jets that bombed Syria’s Khassadjek near Aleppo on October 18 took off from an airfield in Jordan and were twice refueled in the air from a US refueling plane:

"Air control means registered at 01:34 a.m. Moscow time on October 18 the take-off of two military planes of the international coalition from the al-Salti airfield in Jordan." 

According to the spokesman, the Belgian fighter jets were refueled from 02:52 in the Syrian air space in the area of Deir-ez-Zor: 

"While in the air, the Belgian fighter jets were refueled from 02:52 in the Syrian air space in the area of Deir-ez-Zor from a US KC-135 aircraft refueler and then continued their flight in the north-western direction… At 03:35, the planes delivered an air strike against the Kurdish village of Khassadjek in the province of Aleppo, which killed six citizens and wounded four persons. From 04:19, the two Belgian fighter jets were refueled again from the US KC-135 refueler and patrolled the air space in the area of the town of Azaz north of Aleppo," the spokesman said. 

After that, according to Russian military sources, the Belgian plane set course towards Iraq and at 07:25 left Syrian airspace.

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