Assad: Israel is to blame for Russian plane crash

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In a statement, Manelis said that Israel "expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members of the Russian plane that was downed tonight due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire", but added that Israel holds the Assad regime-and its Lebanese allies-fully responsible for the incident.

In a Wednesday letter to his Russian counterpart Vladimir Putin, Assad said the "unfortunate incident" was a result of "Israeli arrogance and depravity", adding that the Tel Aviv regime always resorts to the "dirtiest means to achieve its goals".

At the time of the incident, Israeli jets were attacking targets in Syria and had only given Moscow one minute's warning, putting the Russian aircraft in danger of being caught in cross-fire, said the ministry.

Israel on Monday attacked a facility near the coastal Syrian city of Latakia, which it said was used by the Syrian military to transfer weapons manufacturing systems to Iran and Hezbollah.

The Israeli command centers and the F-16s' pilots could not but see the Russian plane, which was approaching the runway from an altitude of five kilometers.

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"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.

Israel's air force chief will on Thursday present findings in Moscow related to an incident in which a Russian military plane was downed off Syria's coast, Israel's military said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu offered Russian Federation "all necessary information" to investigate.

He also pledged to beef up security for Russian forces in Syria, which three years ago stepped in to support Assad whose grip on power had been weakened by rebels and jihadist fighters.

The leader of Lebanon's Hezbollah militia said Wednesday his group may reduce the number of its fighters in Syria because of an easing of the conflict, particularly after a recent Russian-Turkey agreement that prevented an offensive on the last rebel stronghold.

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Israel, which in 2006 fought a war with Hezbollah, has conducted air strikes in Syria aimed at stopping Iran supplying its ally with advanced weaponry.

But President Vladimir Putin, who spoke to his Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Tuesday, then called it "a chain of tragic chance events" although he added that Russian Federation needed to "seriously get to the bottom of what happened".

The leader of Lebanon's militant Hezbollah boasted Thursday the group now possesses "highly accurate" missiles despite Israeli attempts to prevent it from acquiring such weapons.

The incident marked the first mistake strike between Syria and Russian Federation, which is the main ally to the Syrian government.

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