Russian Military Plane Carrying 14 Disappears Near Syrian Coast

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Israel "expressed sorrow" for the deaths but blamed "extensive and inaccurate" Syrian anti-aircraft fire. Netanyahu frequently travels to Russian Federation for talks with Putin to discuss the war in Syria.

Russian Federation has been a key backer of Syrian President Bashar Assad and has two military bases in the country, including one close to the Mediterranean coast.

Earlier Israel said the jets had attacked a Syrian military facility that manufactured "accurate and lethal weapons", which were "about to be transferred, on behalf of Iran, to Hezbollah in Lebanon".

Pompeo said the incident underscores "the need to end Iran's transit of risky weapons systems through Syria".

The Russian military claimed Israeli pilots had attacked Syrian targets by using "the Russian plane as a cover, exposing it to fire from Syrian air defences".

Syrian anti-aircraft artillery reportedly responded to a number of Israeli missiles that were launched towards the coastal city of Latakia when it accidentally shot the Russian maritime patrol aircraft, according to a United States military official cited in the report.

On Monday Syria accidentally shot down the Russian plane, killing all 15 crew members, when its air defenses swung into action against an Israeli strike.

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The Israeli strike was conducted at approximately 10 four F-16 fighter jets, according to the Russian military.

"As a effect, the Il-20, which has radar cross-section much larger than the F-16, was shot down by an S-200 system missile", it said, adding Israel had warned Russian Federation of an impending airstrike on Latakia only one minute beforehand.

The Russian Defence Ministry said a recovery operation in the Mediterranean Sea is underway and that it has already located the wreckage in the sea and has retrieved some bodies and some fragments of the plane.

Russian Federation had initially blamed Israel for the incident saying the plane was caught in the crossfire as four Israeli fighters attacked targets in northwestern Syria.

Russian Federation has launched a search and rescue operation where the plane crashed into the Mediterranean about 27 kilometres (17 miles) west of the coastal town Baniyas in Latakia province.

What is the diplomatic fallout?

A Russian Il-20 military aircraft with 15 servicemen on board has disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea, Russia's Foreign Ministry said early Tuesday.

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Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu spoke to his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, and told him Moscow held Israel wholly responsible for the shooting down of the plane, Russian news agencies reported. Though Syria claimed to have downed numerous missiles fired by the USA in April 2017 and 2018 in response to chemical weapons use, they never provided any evidence.

Israel also appears to want to ease any damage to relations. SANA added that it was not immediately known who fired the missiles, although suspicion will fall on Israel, which has launched frequent attacks on what it says are Iranian proxy forces in Syria. But the question is, are the Russians attributing blame fairly? Putin didn't not specifically detail which steps will be taken in relation to security, but said that these will be "steps that everyone will notice".

"It rather looks like a chain of tragic accidental circumstances", Putin told reporters, rejecting any comparisons with the downing of a Russian jet by Turkey in 2015.

But the radar signatures of the relatively slow Ilyushin and four nimble F-16 jets are radically different.

There may be several contributory factors in this tragedy. In private things may be rather different.

Russian Federation also announced it had lost contact with an IL-20 aircraft carrying 14 service members.

The demilitarised zone will be secured with the help of "mobile patrol groups of Turkish contingents and contingents of Russian military police", Putin said.

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In March 2018, 39 people died when a Russian transport plane crashed while coming in to land at the Hmeimim base; and in December 2016 a TU-154 on its way to Syria crashed, killing 92 people including army musicians and dancers.