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Russian ambassador to US thanks Americans for sharing grief over Il-20 aircraft crash

Anatoly Antonov said that they gave their lives, protecting the world from terrorism

MOSCOW, September 21. /TASS/. Russian Ambassador to the United States Anatoly Antonov thanked American people for their condolences expressed in regard to 15 victims of Russia’s military aircraft Il-20, downed over the Mediterranean Sea earlier in the week.

"We would like to thank all Americans who shared with us the grief of the loss of IL-20 with Russian officers in Syria on September 17," Antonov was quoted as saying on the Russian Embassy’s account on Facebook social network.

"They gave their lives, protecting the world from terrorism," Antonov added.

Downing of Il-20 aircraft

According to the Russian Defense Ministry, on September 17, contact was lost with a Russian Il-20 aircraft flying over the Mediterranean Sea back to the Russian Hmeimim air base in Syria. The ministry said the aircraft had disappeared from radar during an airstrike four Israeli F-16 fighter jets carried out on targets in the Syrian province of Latakia.

On September 18, the Russian Defense Ministry stated that the Il-20 aircraft had been accidently downed by Syrian air defenses as the Israeli F-16 jets had been using it as cover.

According to Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov, Israeli pilots "could not but see the Russian plane, which was approaching the runway from an altitude of five kilometers." The ministry added that it considered such actions by Israel to be hostile.