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Israeli air force chief to give Moscow findings on Russian plane downing

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Israel’s air force commander will lead a delegation to Moscow to share the military’s findings on the Syrian downing of a Russian warplane following Israeli air strikes, the army said Wednesday.

The delegation, led by Major General Amikam Norkin, would on Thursday “present the situation report... regarding all aspects” of the incident, the army said in a statement.

“In addition, they will present the continuous Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organization and to establish an Iranian military presence in Syria.”

On Monday, Syrian air defenses shot down a Russian military plane, killing 15 soldiers, after Israeli missiles had struck the coastal region of Latakia.

Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday blamed Israel for the downing of a Russian plane, which was accidentally hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire during an Israeli missile strike.

"This unfortunate incident was the result of Israeli arrogance and depravity," the Syrian leader said, offering his condolences in a letter to his Russian counterpart.

"We are determined that such tragic events will sway neither you nor us from continuing the fight against terrorism," he continued in the letter published by the official Sana agency.

The Russian military accused Israeli pilots of using “the Russian plane as a cover, exposing it to fire from Syrian air defenses”.

Israel denied the allegations, saying its jets were already back in Israeli airspace when Syrian forces launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his “sorrow” to Russian President Vladimir Putin in a phone call on Tuesday, offering to assist Moscow in the investigation.

Putin had said the incident was the result of “tragic accidental circumstances,” warning Netanyahu against carrying out such operations in the future and pledging to beef up security for Russian forces in Syria.

Accompanying Norkin on the Thursday visit will be officers from the intelligence and operations directorates, the army said in its Wednesday statement.

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