On multiple occasions, Israel’s actions have put the lives of Russian soldiers in Syria at risk, said Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov in an interview with the Spanish newspaper El Pais. He made the comment in response to a question about the Russian-Israeli agreements to cooperate in order to ensure the safety of flights over Syria.
The head of the Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that the leaders of the two countries, Vladimir Putin and Benjamin Netanyahu, have only reached verbal agreement and a common understanding of the problem. As such, there is no written agreement as there was in the case of the memorandum to prevent flight incidents in Syria signed by the US and Russia in 2015.
“Unfortunately, Israel has not always clearly met its obligations, especially with respect to warning the Russian military about military operations being carried out in Syrian territory. In a number of cases, this has threatened the lives and health of our soldiers in Syria – for example, when Israeli planes bombarded facilities in the Palmyra region in March 2017,” Lavrov observed.
Lavrov added that Russia warned that such an attitude could lead to tragic consequences, but Israel continued to launch attacks. “Such signals were communicated through all the channels and on the very highest level. At the same time, we emphasized that forceful actions cannot solve the issues Israel is concerned about in the area of security, and will only increase regional tension. Nevertheless, the practice of launching attacks against targets in Syria has continued,” he noted.
Lavrov claims that this is what led to the downing of the Russian Il-20 aircraft and the death of all 15 Russians on board. The Russian reconnaissance plane was shot down over the Mediterranean Sea on September 17 by a Syrian-operated S-200 anti-air missile system. The Syrian anti-air defense was attempting to repel an Israeli F-16 air strike on Syrian facilities in the Latakia province, but mistakenly hit the Russian aircraft, which was unable to leave the region in time.