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Israel air force chief to visit Russia amid Syria row

Russian military plane [Wikipedia]

A delegation led by Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander Amikan Norkan will visit Moscow later today to discuss the downing earlier this week of a Russian military plane by Syrian air defence forces, the Israeli army has said.

According to an army statement, Norkan and members of his delegation will present an extensive report on the incident, including pre-mission data and the findings of an Israeli army inquiry.

“The IAF commander will be joined by the head of the International Cooperation Unit, Brigadier-General Erez Maisel, along with officers of the Intelligence Directorate, the IAF and the Operations Directorate,” the statement read.

Members of the delegation, it added, planned to present their Russian interlocutors with evidence of what the army described as “continuous Iranian attempts to transfer strategic weapons to the Hezbollah terror organisation and establish an Iranian military presence in Syria”.

In the early hours of Tuesday, Israeli F-16s entered Syrian airspace with a view to striking Syrian military targets in the northwestern Latakia province.

A Russia-Israel confrontation in Syria

Israeli officials later claimed the intended target was an arms factory, weapons from which were meant to be transferred to Lebanon’s Hezbollah, an ally of Syria’s Assad regime and a bitter enemy of Israel.

When Syria’s Russian-built S-200 air-defence system responded to the airspace breach, a Russian Il-20 military plane was struck by a missile, destroying the aircraft and killing all 15 servicemen on board.

The Russian Defence Ministry held Israel “solely responsible” for the incident, accusing it of committing “irresponsible actions” over Syrian territory.

“By hiding behind the Russian plane, Israeli pilots put it in the line of fire,” read a ministry statement issued after the incident.

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