The Russian Foreign Ministry denounced Israeli air force actions in Syria on Thursday, saying they ultimately led to the downing of a Russian surveillance plane by a Syrian air defense crew that killed all 15 personnel aboard the aircraft.
“Moscow views the Israeli attack in Syria as irresponsible which exposed the Ilyushin aircraft to danger and lead to the deaths of 15 crew members. Russia will take all necessary measures to eliminate threats to our security and military in their fight against terrorism,” the Russian diplomatic mission in Israel wrote on Twitter, The Jerusalem Post reported.
Moscow views as irresponsible and unfriendly actions of Israeli Air Force,which exposed Russian Il-20 aircraft to danger and lead to death of 15 servicemen.Russia would take all necessary measures to eliminate threat to life and security of our military fighting against terrorism pic.twitter.com/aEgFQhikIk
— Russia🇷🇺 in Israel (@israel_mid_ru) September 20, 2018
The message came as a delegation of Israeli air force officials were enroute to Moscow to meet with counterparts and show them intelligence “relating to the event, including preoperation photos, proof of Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to Hezbollah and establish its positions in Syria, and the Israeli findings after the investigation,” the JPost reported.
Meanwhile, separately, the JPost reported that the leader of Hezbollah, addressing a crowd in Lebanon, said that despite Israeli efforts to interdict Iranian weapons and missile smuggling to its proxy, the militant group nevertheless possesses a “precision” attack capability.
“No matter what you do to cut the route, the matter is over and the resistance possesses precision and non-precision rockets and weapons capabilities,” said Hassan Nasrallah, claiming also that the balance of power between Hezbollah and Israel has “changed.”
“All your attempts to prevent Hezbollah from possessing accurate missiles are foiled,” Nasrallah said during a speech via video to Beirut’s Dahiyeh suburb, in marking the Muslim holiday Ashura, JPost reported. “We have accurate missiles that if used in any future war will change the entire equation.”
Analysis: Israeli rarely admits that it conducts airstrikes on foreign soil but did so this week following the downing of the Russian Il-20 surveillance aircraft.
Israeli Defense Force officials announced that IDF aircraft had struck a Syrian military facility in the coastal province of Latakia, because intelligence indicated that Iranian forces were preparing to transfer equipment that would enable the on-site manufacture of GPS-guided missiles.
The intel the IDF used to plan and carry out the strike is very likely on its way to Moscow with the air force delegation.
That said, it’s probably not wise to completely discount Nasrallah’s claims, though it might be easy to dismiss them as hyperbole. As good as Israeli intelligence may be, the sheer number of times the IDF has had to send warplanes to attack missile factories in Syria should lead one to assume that at least some are operating below the radar and producing weapons for Hezbollah.
Targeting Israeli military and civilian centers with more accurate missiles, coupled with accurate missile strikes from other Iranian installations inside Syria and from Iran proper, would draw the full wrath of the Israeli people and the full force (with U.S. assistance) of the Israeli military.
As unfortunate as the downing of the Russian aircraft was, Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu has never wavered from his pledge to strike targets in Syrian and even Lebanon if they are deemed a serious threat to his country’s national security. That’s likely the message that the IDF is carrying to Moscow, proof in hand.
Will that sway Vladimir Putin? Not enough to pull his forces out of Syria, nor enough to make future strikes in Syria by Israel easier.