Armenia expresses condolences over downing of Russian Il-20 aircraft
YEREVAN, SEPTEMBER 20, ARMENPRESS. The Armenian ministry of foreign affairs has expressed condolences over the downing of the Russian Il-20 aircraft.
“We express our deepest condolences to the families and friends of the 15 Russian servicemen who died as a result of the tragedy with the Il-20 aircraft over Syrian skies,” the foreign ministry said on Facebook.
The Russian defense ministry said earlier that on September 17 at about 23.00 Moscow time, radar contact with a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 warplane, which was flying back to the Russian air base Hmeymim, was lost over the Mediterranean at a distance of 35 kilometers off the Syrian coast, TASS reported.
There were 15 Russian troops aboard the plane. Then, the Russian Defense Ministry said that the Il-20 disappeared off the radars during airstrikes delivered by four Israeli F-16 fighter jets on the Syrian targets in Latakia province.
Later, the defense ministry informed that the Il-20 was shot down by Syrian air defense systems because Israel’s F-16 fighter jets used it as cover.
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. Nevertheless, they deliberately staged this provocation, Russian Defense Ministry Spokesman Maj.-Gen. Igor Konashenkov said, adding that Israel’s actions are considered in Russia as hostile.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a telephone conversation with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday, stating that Israel is solely to blame for the downing of Russia’s Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft over the Mediterranean Sea. The irresponsible actions by the Israeli Air Force led to a tragedy, which claimed the lives of 15 Russian military personnel, he said.
Later in the day, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) released a communique expressing sorrow for the death of the Il-20 crew members.
Edited and translated by Stepan Kocharyan