On 17 September, a Russian military Ilyushin IL-20 disappeared from the radar close to the Syrian coast, in the Mediterranean Sea. “The turboprop airline had 14 passengers on board and disappeared from the radar during Israeli Air Force air strikes against Syria and missile launches from a French ship,” the Russian Defense Ministry said on Tuesday. But French military denied all involvement and Israeli military refused to comment on foreign reports. Meanwhile the U.S. believes that the aircraft was accidentally shot down with anti-aircraft artillery by the Syrian government, Reuters reports.
“On 17 September around 23:00 (UTC +3), the aircraft was 35 km from the Syrian coast and returning from Russia’s Hmeimim airbase near the north-western city of Latakia,” the Russian Defense Ministry added.
A search-and-rescue operation has started from Hmeimim airbase.
A Russian Defense Ministry spokesman confirmed the IL-20 aircraft was shot down by Syrian air defense (SAM) accusing Israel Air Force fighter aircraft abusing the more visible target of the IL-20 as a “radar shield” for their attacks against Syrian targets.