MOSCOW, September 18. /TASS/. Russia will take all necessary measures to ensure security of its servicemen in Syria, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Vershinin said on Tuesday at a meeting with the charge d’affaires at the Israeli embassy in Moscow, Keren Cohen Gat.
"Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Vershinin stressed that Moscow considers the Israeli air forces’ actions as irresponsible and unfriendly when they put the Russian Il-20 plane in line of fire of Syria air defense systems. As a result, 15 Russian servicemen were killed," the Russian foreign ministry said after the meeting. "It was noted that the Russian side will take all necessary measures to avoid threats to the lives and security of Russian servicemen who are helping the Syrian people uproot terrorism."
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.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday, stating that Israel is solely to blame for the downing of Russia’s Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft over the Mediterranean Sea. The irresponsible actions by the Israeli Air Force led to a tragedy, which claimed the lives of 15 Russian military personnel, he said.