Russia blames Israel for Syrian state forces almost downing airliner
Moscow (dpa) – An Israeli airstrike onto Syrian territory jeopardized a civilian airliner en route to Damascus as Syrian state forces in their response nearly shot down the plane, the Russian military said on Friday.
The Airbus-320, carrying more than 170 passengers from Tehran, was successfully diverted to land at the Russian-operated Hmeimim airbase in north-western Syria amid the incident on Thursday, Russia’s Defence Ministry said in a statement.
Russia said it has become “characteristic” of Israel’s airforce to take cover behind civilian planes in an effort to thwart a counter-attack, according to the statement.
Russia had similarly blamed Israel in 2018 for Syrian state forces shooting down a Russian reconnaissance plane off the Syrian coast, saying Israeli aircraft used the Russian plane to take cover.
It was not immediately clear which Airbus-320 the Russian military was referring to in its reporting of Thursday’s incident as there was apparently no such airliner flying from Tehran to Damascus at that time.
According to the flight tracking website FlightRadar24.com, there was a civilian flight by such an airliner from the Iraqi city of Najaf to Damascus. That flight, operated by the Syrian company Cham Wings, was recorded as having landed at the Hmeimim airbase.
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