Israeli fighter jet
© Baz Ratner / Reuters
An Israeli Air Force F-16 fighter jet.
The Russian military say the Israeli raid on Syria triggered a chain of events, which led to the shooting down of a Russian Il-20 plane by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile. Moscow reserves the right to respond accordingly.

On Monday evening four Israeli F-16 fighter jets attacked targets in Syria's Latakia after approaching from the Mediterranean, a statement by the Russian defense ministry said on Tuesday. The Israeli warplanes came at a low altitude and "created a dangerous situation for other aircraft and vessels in the region", it said.


The military said the French Navy's frigate "Auvergne" as well as a Russian Il-20 plane were in the area of the Israeli operation.

"The Israeli pilots used the Russian plane as cover and set it up to be targeted by the Syrian air defense forces. As a consequence, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile," the statement said.

syria map

Map of the incident on September 17 in Syria provided by the Russian defense ministry.
The Russian ministry stressed that the Israelis must have known that the Russian plane was present in the area, which didn't stop them from "the provocation". Israel also failed to warn Russia about the planned operation in advance. The warning came a minute before the attack started, which "did not leave time to move the Russian plane to a safe area," the statement said.

The latest statement gives a larger death toll than earlier reports by the Russian military, which said there were 14 crew members onboard the missing Il-20. It said a search and rescue operation for the shot-down plane continued.

Israel did not comment on the reports about the air raid in Syria which is consistent with its usual policy on such matters. Israeli officials earlier acknowledged hundreds of airstrikes conducted in Syria over the past years. Israel claims its interventions are necessary to fight Iranian presence in the neighboring country.