Syria shoots down Russian military jet, but Moscow blames Israel

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Russia's defense ministry said on Tuesday that one of its military aircrafts with 15 people on board disappeared from radar screens over Syria because it was shot down inadvertantly by Syrian military.

But Moscow still blamed Israel's mounting aerial attacks on targets in Syria, saying Israeli military planes deliberately created 'a dangerous' situation in syria's Latakia - where the Russian military aircraft went missing.

The defense ministry said that Israeli pilots put Russian military aircraft in path of Syrian air defense systems.

The statement added that Israel only warned Russia about the planned operation one minute beforehand - “not giving the Russian jet enough time to reach to safety.”

"15 Russian military service people died because of Israel's irresponsible actions." the ministry added.

"Connection has been lost with the crew of a Russian Il-20 plane over the Mediterranean Sea 35 kilometers from the Syrian coast as it was returning to the Hmeimim airbase," the Russian defense ministry had said early Tuesday.

The ministry said that the jet had gone off the radar around 11pm Monday (2000 GMT) during an attack by four Israeli F-16 jets over Syrian infrastructure in the province of Latakia, a stronghold of President Bashar al-Assad.

RIA Novosti news agency, citing a security source, said that Syrian anti-defense systems had countered a rocket attack.

The plane was over the Mediterranean Sea about 35 km (20 miles) from the Syrian coastline, Russia's TASS news agency quoted the ministry as saying in a statement.

"The trace of the Il-20 on flight control radars disappeared during an attack by four Israeli F-16 jets on Syrian facilities in Latakia province," the statement was quoted as saying.

"At the same time Russian air control radar systems detected rocket launches from the French frigate Auvergne which was located in that region."

(with AFP and Reuters)

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