Russia: Ilyushin Il-20 Disappeared in Israeli F-16 Attack on Latakia

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A Russian military jet carrying 14 people has been shot down in the Mediterranean off the coast of Syria, the country's defence ministry has said.

Syrian air defense forces may have accidentally shot down a Russian Il-20 Coot electronic intelligence aircraft during an attempt to respond to apparent Israeli air strikes against targets in Syria's coastal Latakia governorate.

When asked for comment about Monday's attack, an Israeli military spokeswoman said Israel did not comment on foreign reports.

The Israeli Air Force has Russian-speaking air traffic controllers able to communicate with their Russian opposite numbers.

But it insisted the Russian plane had been felled by "extensive and inaccurate" Syrian anti-aircraft fire, adding anti-air batteries "did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air".

Later, Russian President Vladimir Putin called the shoot down "the result of a chain of tragic and chance circumstances", Reuters notes.

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The incident occurred at about 11 p.m. Monday local time as the Il-20 reportedly was returning to Hmeimim, the main Russian air base in Syria, near Latakia.

It was unclear if Syrian government or Iranian forces were at the facility.

Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, and told him Moscow held Israel wholly responsible for the shooting down of the plane, Russian news agencies reported.

"We regard the provocative actions of Israel as hostile". Israel rarely acknowledges attacks inside Syria, but has said it will use military action to prevent weapons transfers to its enemies.

The Russian Ilyushin dropped off the radar over the Mediterranean moments after Turkey and Russia announced a deal that offered millions of people reprieve from a threatened military assault in northern Syria.

Russia's presence in Latakia includes a large naval base, which was reportedly under attack by an unclaimed missile strike that Syria alleges to have come from Israel.

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The Il-20 plane went down during a massive air battle between Israeli jets and Syrian air defenses, which sprang to life during a missile attack that pounded an ammunition depot and an industrial compound. Israel has reportedly hit more than 200 Iranian targets in Syria over the past 18 months. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, according to Russian media.

The Russian maritime patrol plane lost signal and is believed to have been shot down during an alleged Israeli missile attack in the province of Latakia.

In May, Netanyahu met with Putin in Moscow to seek the Russian president's help in getting Iran to stop backing Assad and supplying Hezbollah with weapons.

Russian Federation had initially blamed Israel for the incident saying the plane was caught in the crossfire as four Israeli fighters attacked targets in northwestern Syria.

The ministry said it "was not possible" Israeli forces did not see the craft as it was preparing to land.

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