Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin, current Air Force commander, and Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, his predecessor.
(photo credit: IDF SPOKESPERSON'S UNIT)
Russia’s Defense Ministry will publish detailed information on the downing of the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 military plane off Syria last week, Russian media reported Saturday.
“The minute-by-minute time line of the tragedy will be given with a presentation of objective data from the radar’s data handling system about the air situation in Syria on September 17 and actions of Israel’s air force in the area of the crash,” the ministry was quoted by TASS news as saying.
The IDF’s delegation to Moscow headed by Israel Air Force Commander Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin returned to Israel early Friday morning after meeting with senior Russian officials following an agreement between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“The meetings was factual and to the point,” a senior IDF official said Friday of hours-long meetings which were led by the commander of the Russian Air Force in Moscow.
Israel presented all facts regarding the incident including intelligence gathered prior to the strike, the recording of the hotline call between Tel Aviv and Syria’s Russian-operated Khmeimim Air Base prior to the Israeli operation, the significance of the attack and the findings of the IDF’s investigation.
“We feel that our data has been received in an objective and transparent manner,” the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told reporters Friday.
The delegation also provided to the Russians all operational information and intelligence regarding Iran’s ongoing entrenchment in Syria, their continued smuggling of weapons to Hezbollah and the information the IDF possessed about depots in Latakia that led to the Israeli strike.
According to the senior officer, all Israeli jets which had taken part in the strike were already in Israeli airspace and were landing at their bases when the Ilyushin was hit.
“Our notification of the operation was given more than a minute before the attack. The claim that we used the Russian plane as provocation is incorrect and we proved it,” he stressed.
MOSCOW ACCUSED Israel Tuesday morning of using the IL-20 as cover to carry out the strikes
and said Israel warned them of the operation only one minute prior.
“There was no provocation against the Ilyushin,” said the officer, explaining that over 20 anti-aircraft missiles were fired by the Syrian regime in an irresponsible manner which put other planes at risk.
“We proved how the Syrian reckless anti-aircraft fire was the direct cause of hitting the Russian aircraft,” he said. “They fired quite recklessly, irresponsibly and unprofessionally into the air long after our planes were no longer there.”
According to the senior IDF official, the deconfliction mechanism with the Russians, “which has been operating in an organized, successful manner” will continue, pointing out that the hotline was used Friday afternoon.
The IDF has also updated American defense establishment officials about the incident.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with Norkin and the delegation Friday morning and received what his office said was a “detailed briefing” about the meetings. Netanyahu gave instructions to continue the dialogue with the Russians.
Israel rarely comments on foreign reports of military activity in Syria but has publicly admitted to having struck over 200 targets there over the past year and a half. According to the IDF, the strikes which mainly targeted advanced weapons systems and infrastructure belonging to Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps were aimed at preventing Iranian entrenchment in Syria.
According to Russian media, Putin did not meet with Norkin and the Israeli delegation, but on Friday deputy speaker of the Knesset MK Tali Ploskov (Kulanu) met with the Russian president during a Euro-Asian Women’s conference in St. Petersburg.
“We talked about the plane incident. I told the president that I shared their grief. I added that it was clear to everyone that the facts should be made clear, and that Israel was not interested in harming Russia in any way. In response, Putin said that many mistakes had been made during the incident and that he expects Israel to investigate the incident
,” she said.
Israel has placed the blame for the incident squarely on the Syrian regime, which fired the Russian-made anti-aircraft battery during an Israeli air strike by F-16 fighter jets on a Syrian military facility near the coastal city of Latakia on Monday .
On Thursday, Syria’s SANA news agency reported that President Bashar Assad had sent a telegram to Moscow expressing his apologies for the deaths of the 15 Russian servicemen, but blamed Israel for the downing.
“This unfortunate event is a consequence of Israel’s arrogance, which always applies the ugliest methods to achieve its goals and implement its aggression in the area,” he said.
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