A missile of the Russian-supplied S-200 air defence system brought down a Russian Air Force Ilyushin-20 aircraft which was coming into land at around the same time Israeli F-16 jets attacked Syrian targets.
Blaming Israel for the loss of the aircraft which was carrying 14 crew members, Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told the media in Moscow that the ‘ploy’ of the Israeli Air Force was to use the larger aircraft as cover to sneak in from the sea. The S-200 air defence system locked onto the biggest target even as the Israeli jets were flying close by it at a lower altitude.
The Israeli command centers and 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," he said in a report quoted by TASS.
Israel had issued no warning to the Russian military group in Syria of the forthcoming operation. "A hot-line warning was received less than one minute before the strike, which left no chance for taking the Russian plane to safety," Konashenkov added.
."By using the Russian plane as a cover the Israeli pilots made it vulnerable to Syrian air defense fire. As a result, the Ilyushin-20, its reflective surface being far greater than that of the F-16, was downed by a missile launched with the S-200 system," Konashenkov said.
Konashenkov said four F-16s of the Israeli Air Force carried out a strike with guided air bombs against Syrian facilities in the area of Latakia at about 22:00 on September 17. The fighters approached the target from the Mediterranean at a low altitude.
The Israeli planes deliberately created a dangerous situation for surface ships and aircraft in that area.."The bombing raid was near the French frigate The Auvergne and in close proximity to the Ilyushin-20 plane of Russia’s Aerospace Force that was about to land," Konashenkov said.