CBS/AP September 18, 2018, 4:43 AM Russia blames Israel for deadly strike on Russian jet in Syria

A file photo shows a Russian Air Force Ilyushin IL-20 surveillance plane landing at Kubinka Air Force base.


Russia's Defense Ministry warned it could retaliate against Israel on Tuesday after one of its surveillance aircraft with 15 people on board was brought down by a Syrian surface-to-air missile over the Mediterranean Sea. Rescuers were searching for wreckage but did not expect to find survivors.

The Russian military said the plane was hit by accident by one of the Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missiles, which had been aimed at four Israeli F-16 fighter jets that were attacking targets in the coastal province of Latakia late on Monday.

Russia said the Israeli aircraft "pushed" the Russian Ilyushin 20 (IL-20) surveillance turboprop plane into the line of fire. The ministry accused the Israeli army of "intentional provocation" and said Israel did not warn Russia of its operation in the area until one minute before the strike.

"Using the Russian jet as a shield, the Israeli pilots put it in the fire of Syrian air defense systems," Russian media quoted Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov as saying.

The Russian military said it reserved the right to "respond accordingly" to what it views as hostile Israeli action.

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