MOSCOW, February 7. /TASS/. An Airbus-320 with 172 passengers on board could have been targeted by Syrian missile defense systems because of Israel's airstrikes on the Damascus suburbs on February 6, the plane was escorted out of the danger zone and assisted in landing at the Hmeymim air base, official spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry Igor Konashenkov told reporters on Friday.
During the attack of Israeli fighter jets near Damascus airport, a passenger plane with 172 passengers on board en route from Tehran to Damascus was preparing to land, Konashenkov said. The passenger plane narrowly escaped "the lethal zone of artillery fire," he added.
"Only thanks to the prompt actions of dispatchers at Damascus airport and the effective work of the automated system of monitoring air traffic, the Airbus-320 was escorted out of the danger zone and assisted in successfully landing at an aerodrome at the Russian air base Hmeymim," he added.
"The Israeli General Staff's military air operations using passenger jets for cover or [for] blocking of retaliatory fire by Syrian missile systems is becoming a typical trait of the Israeli Air Force," he noted.
He said that the Israeli Air Force hit the outskirts of Damascus with airstrikes on February 6 without entering Syria's airspace. Israeli fighter jets fired eight air-to surface missiles. The Syrian military used its missile defense systems to repel the airstrikes.