Syrian Air Defenses Shoot Down Russian Aircraft

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On September 17, a Russian Ilyushin-20 reconnaissance plane was shot down off the coast of Latakia by a Syrian S-200 air defense system, killing all 15 crew members. Russia blamed the incident on Israel which was conducting an airstrike in the vicinity against targets associated with arms transfers to Lebanese Hezbollah and did not coordinate the mission with Russian controllers. According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Israeli fighter jets maneuvered to use the Russian plane as a “shield” as it returned to the Russian operated Hmeymim air base. Russia is an ally of Bashar al-Assad’s government in Syria, but maintains a military partnership with Israel. Israel has conducted over 200 sorties against Syrian targets since 2016.