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Russian plane destroyed in flight by missile fire over Syria (V2)

(B2) A Russian military plane, with 15 crew members on board, disappeared Monday evening (September 17) over the Mediterranean, said the Russian Defense Ministry, which indirectly accused France of being involved before casting his accusation on Israel

Moscow accuses Israeli F-16s of hiding behind its plane's radar signal (credit: Israeli Air Force)

The disappearance of a reconnaissance plane off the coast of Syria

« On September 17, around 23:00 p.m. [22:00 p.m. Paris time], all contact was lost with the crew of the Russian Il-20 aircraft which was returning to the Hmeimim air base. ". The aircraft - a four-engine equipped with different equipment (radar, electromagnetic intelligence) specialized in reconnaissance - was then flying over the Mediterranean, 35km from the Syrian coast.

A missile attack from the sea…maybe

According to the Russians, the Ilyushin-20 disappeared from radar screens at the time of the attack by four Israeli F-16 planes which had targeted Syrian targets in the Latakia governorate on Monday evening. At the same time, a missile attack was carried out from the sea, according to Sputnik. " Russian airspace control systems recorded missile launches from the French frigate Auvergne in this area », Specifies the Russian Ministry of Defense. On the side of the general staff of the French armies, joined by B2, we “ formally denies any involvement ».

Commentary: three simultaneous facts

The Russian accusation is not direct. But it connects several simultaneous facts: 1° the attack by Israeli planes; 2° the presence of the French frigate FREMM and missile fire; 3° the disappearance of the Russian plane. It remains to be seen whether the plane was really hit by a missile and by which one. Knowing that the Syrian anti-aircraft defense went into action as soon as the 'Israeli' attack was launched, nothing excludes that it was not hit by 'fratricidal' fire. In any case, this accusation (even false) which directly targets France must be taken seriously. It reveals that France is still a political target of the Kremlin.

Israeli planes implicated

(Updated) The Russian Defense Ministry somehow confirmed this analysis, implicitly confirming that the plane had been hit by Syrian anti-aircraft defenses and thus clearing France. In press conference, held on Tuesday (September 18), Minister Sergei Shoigu directly implicated Israel. Israeli planes attacked without warning, or to be more precise informed us at one minute that they were going to strike targets on Syrian territory ". They took shelter behind the signal " of our IL-20, hoping that the Syrian air defense system would not work »; said the Russian minister who warned: “ Russia will not leave unanswered the action of the Israeli Air Force in Syria, due to the death of Russian soldiers ».

(Nicolas Gros-Verheyde)

Updated on the death toll of the Russian military (15 and not 14) and the direct accusation directed towards Israel

Nicolas Gros Verheyde

Chief editor of the B2 site. Graduated in European law from the University of Paris I Pantheon Sorbonne and listener to the 65th session of the IHEDN (Institut des Hautes Etudes de la Défense Nationale. Journalist since 1989, founded B2 - Bruxelles2 in 2008. EU/NATO correspondent in Brussels for Sud-Ouest (previously West-France and France-Soir).