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France offers assistance in search operation after incident with Russian plane in Syria

The French defense minister expressed her condolences to the Russian side

MOSCOW, September 18. /TASS/. France’s Defense Minister Florence Parly has offered assistance in a search operation after the crash of Russia’s Ilyushin Il-20 plane in the Mediterranean Sea, the Russian defense ministry said on Tuesday after her telephone conversation with her Russian counterpart, Sergei Shoigu.

The conversation was initiated by the French side.

"The French defense minister extended her condolences to the Russian side over the tragedy and offered assistance in the search operation," the ministry said.

The Russian defense minister informed his French counterpart about the circumstances of the incident that claimed the lives of 15 Russian servicemen. "Sergei Shoigu thanked Mrs Florence Parly for assistance proposal and reassured that Russia has enough forces and equipment to conduct the search operation," the ministry said.

Apart from that, the two ministers discussed various aspects of the Russian-Turkish memorandum on the stabilization of the situation in Syria’s Idlib de-escalation zone that was signed in Sochi on Monday.

The Russian defense ministry said earlier that a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 plane that was flying back to the airbase at Syria’s Hmeymim crashed over the Mediterranean Sea late on Monday. According to the ministry, four Israeli F-16 fighter jet were delivering airstrikes on Syrian targets in the Latakia governorate at the moment. The ministry said the Russian Il-20 was shot down by Syria’s air defense over the Mediterranean Sea because Israel’s F-16 fighter jets used it as a cover. The Israeli command centers and the F-16s’ pilots could not but see the Russian plane, which was approaching the runway from an altitude of five kilometers. Nevertheless, they deliberately staged this provocation, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, adding that Israel’s actions are considered in Russia as hostile.