IDF chief sends condolences to Russian families after Syria strike debacle

Source: IDF chief sends condolences to Russian families after Syria strike debacle

Speaking at IDF exhibition in Holon, Eisenkot says Israel shares the ‘sorrow of the families’ of Russian military personnel who were killed during Syrian attempt to repel IAF strike on Latakia; despite Russia blaming Israel, Eisenkot emphasizes: ‘Unfortunately, Syrian forces hit a Russian aircraft.’
IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot joined senior Israeli officials on Thursday morning in expressing regret for the loss of 15 Russian lives that was caused Monday evening when Syrian air defenses downed a Russian plane while trying to intercept an airstrike launched by Israel.
Israel claimed responsibility for the attack after originally maintaining silence.

Syrian President Bashar Assad’s forces accidentally shot down the Russian military aircraft following a missile strike on the Syrian coastal city of Latakia that was immediately attributed to the Israel Air Force.

“Today, the State of Israel marks 45 years since the outbreak of the (1973) Yom Kippur War—a war that left the IDF with one clear mission: be ready and place the army’s preparedness as a top priority,” Eisenkot said during a ceremony in Holon to inaugurate the “Our IDF” exhibit.

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot (Photo: Yariv Katz)

Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot (Photo: Yariv Katz)

“Its operational and technological strength presented in the exhibit reflects extensive activity in the build up and action of the forces—action that is carried out with great professionalism and discretion to prevent our enemies from having advanced capabilities that threaten the State of Israel,” the military chief continued.

“For this reason, the IDF went into action again this week in the north. Unfortunately, Syrian forces hit a Russian aircraft and we share the sorrow of the families and the Russian army.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday that Syrian forces were to blame for the downing of the Russian military plane, but he offered “all necessary information” to investigate the incident.

A day after the attack, the Russian Defense Ministry denounced what it described as Israel’s “deliberate provocation” and blamed Israel for the subsequent crash, saying the plane was caught in the crossfire as four Israeli strike hit targets in northwestern Syria.

In a bid to calm tensions between Jerusalem and Moscow, an IDF delegation headed by the IAF’s Commander Amikam Norkin departed for the Russian capital to explain what led to the deadly mishap.

PM Netanyahu with President Putin during visit to Moscow (Photo: Reuters)

PM Netanyahu with President Putin during visit to Moscow (Photo: Reuters)

According to a statement put out by the IDF, Norkin and his delegation will present pictures to Russian officials showing the circumstances surrounding the incident, along with preliminary conclusions on the ongoing IDF investigation into the matter.

Israel’s ambassador in Moscow was summoned to the Russian Foreign Ministry over the incident, foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said.

“The Israeli pilots were using the Russian aircraft as a shield and pushed it into the line of fire of the Syrian defense,” ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said in a statement.

Russia said it would make an “appropriate response” to Israel.

Reuters and Associated Press contributed to this report.

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