Russian Federation says ‘misled’ by Israel in plane downing over Syria

Moscow will bolster Syria's air defense following the downing of a Russian plane last week by sending a modern S-300 system to the Syrian army within two weeks, Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said Monday. All 15 people aboard were killed. The Russian Defense Ministry on Sunday Sept. 23, 2018, has renewed its accusations against Israel for causing the downing of a Russian military plane over Syria.

Putin and Syrian President Bashar al-Assad discussed the additional measures and delivery of the S-300 system on the phone on Monday, the Kremlin said.

Iranian-backed Hezbollah is also an enemy of Israel, which has carried out strikes in Syria to stop what it says are advanced arms deliveries to the Shiite group.

For its part, Israel is wary of Iran's growing influence in Syria.

Commenting on the development later in the day, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov stressed that the Russian leadership made the decision to protect Russian aircraft in Syria from further friendly fire incidents and "is not directed against third nations".

"We believe that the Israeli air force and those who were making decisions about these actions are fully to blame for the tragedy that happened to the Russian Il-20 plane", Major General Igor Konashenkov said.

"We are certain that the realization of these measures will cool the "hot heads" and will keep them from poorly thought-out actions which threaten our servicemen", Shoigu said.

Russian Federation already has its own S-300 air defense system in Syria, along with the more advanced S-400 system.

Russian Federation also accused Israel of using a hotline set up between the two sides to avoid airborne collisions to mislead Russian Federation about its plans.

Russia laid the blame for the downing on Israel, saying that the Israeli military failed to inform their Russian counterpart in time for the Il-20 to be moved to a safe area.

Moscow first announced that it was considering reversing its longtime policy against supplying the S-300 system to the regime following a series of airstrikes against Syrian targets by the United States, United Kingdom and France in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by Assad.

For several years, Israel and Russian Federation have maintained a special hotline to prevent their air forces from clashing in the skies over Syria.

Deputy Foreign Minister Mikhail Bogdanov said that supplying S-300s to Syria is Russia's "right" and voiced confidence that this would not hurt Russian ties with Israel.

The missiles are expected to be transferred within two weeks. "It won't make them invulnerable to Israeli attacks, but it will make things more complicated and raise the risk of losses". Sly reported from Beirut.

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