Israeli aerial operations in violation of Syria’s sovereignty, Putin says
Russian President Vladimir Putin says the Israeli military’s aerial operations in the Syrian airspace are in flagrant violation of the incumbent Damascus government’s sovereignty as tensions are simmering between Moscow and Tel Aviv over the downing of the Russian Ilyushin Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft in the western Syrian province of Latakia.
“Putin pointed to the fact that the Israeli air force has been conducting operations in breach of Syria’s sovereignty. In this case, Russian-Israeli agreements on the prevention of dangerous incidents were not observed. As a result, a Russian airplane came under fire from Syria’s anti-aircraft systems. The President of Russia called for the Israeli side to avoid such situations from now on,” the Kremlin press service quoted Putin as telling Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Tuesday.
The Israeli prime minister, in return, offered his condolences over the death of 15 Russian servicemen, who were onboard the downed military plane.
“Netanyahu promised to provide detailed information on the activities of the Israeli air force over the Syrian territory on that day for the purpose of a meticulous investigation of the tragedy. The Israeli Air Force Commander (Aluf Amikam Norkin) will bring it to Moscow shortly,” the Kremlin statement noted.
Russia’s Defense Ministry has held Israel responsible for the downing of the Il-20 military aircraft by Syrian government anti-aircraft guns, stating that Israeli jets were attacking targets in Syria at the time of the incident and such provocations put the Russian plane in danger of being caught in cross-fire.
“The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces,” the Russian Defense Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday.
“We view the actions of the Israeli military as hostile. As a result of the irresponsible actions of the Israeli military, 15 Russian service personnel perished,” Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov told Russia’s state-run television network.
‘Latest Israeli aggression on Syria meant to prop up terrorists’
Meanwhile, Syria’s Ambassador to the United Nations Bashar al-Jaafari has censured the latest Israeli aggression on his country, stating that the incident is in line with the Tel Aviv regime’s aggressive policies and an attempt to boost the morale of terror groups, which are taking heavy blows on the battlefield in the Arab state.
“Syria calls on UN Security Council to take firm and immediate measures to hold Israel accountable for its terrorism and crimes in violation of the Charter of the United Nations,” Jaffari said at a Security Council session on the situation in Syria on Tuesday.
“We are surprised that UN Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and the UN Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator Mark Lowcock did not address the repeated Israeli attacks on Syria,” the Syrian diplomat pointed out.
Jaafari noted that the Syrian government is working towards a political solution to the ongoing crisis through intra-Syrian dialogue and without external interference.
He stressed that the fight against terrorism should be a priority in all the stages of the political process.
“Syria welcomes any initiative that spares the lives of Syrians and contributes to the restoration of security to any area plagued by terrorism. Syria will continue its war against terrorism until the last inch of its territory is liberated either through military operations or reconciliations,” Jaafari stated.
Syria has been gripped by foreign-backed militancy since March 2011. The Syrian government says the Israeli regime and its Western and regional allies are aiding Takfiri terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the country.