Syria missile strikes (September 2018)

Late on 17 September 2018, missile strikes that hit multiple targets in the Syrian government-controlled western Syria were conducted by the Israeli Air Force. The Israel Defense Forces accepted responsibility for the airstrikes the following day and expressed sorrow for the Russian plane, downed by Syria's air defenses.[6][7] The strikes occurred a few hours after a Russo-Turkish agreement to create a demilitarized zone around Idlib Governorate was achieved, which postponed an imminent offensive operation by Syria′s forces and its allies.[8] Later, a Russian plane was also struck, by a Syrian government S-200 missile.

Syria missile strikes (September 2018)
Part of Iranian-Israeli conflict, and Russian military intervention in the Syrian Civil War
Latakia, Tartus and Homs Governorates, Syria
Planned by Israel
Date17 September 2018 (2018-09-17)
Executed by Israeli Air Force
  • Russia delivers S-300 Surface to Air Missile to Syrian Arab Air force[1]
  • Russia to start jamming radar and satellite signals of planes that attack Syrian territory from the Mediterranean[2]
Casualties 2 Syrian soldiers killed[3]
15 Russian servicemen killed[4](friendly fire)
About 10 injured[5]


At approximately 22:00 (local time), a large number of missiles struck the Latakia, Tartus and Homs governorates of western Syria.[9] According to the Russian MoD′s detailed report presented on 23 September, the attack began at 21:40 and involved four F-16 fighter jets launching GBU-39 bombs at industrial sites in Latakia.[10][11]

Missiles hit the Institute of Technological Industries, a subsidiary of the Syrian Ministry of Defense, in the outskirts of Latakia;[9][12] the SOHR reported that the missiles targeted ammunition depots there.[5] 2 people were killed and 10 injured.[5] Following the strikes, released satellite images showed a destroyed ammunition warehouse.[13]

Russian aircraft crash

During Israel's attack — at 22:02:45, according to the Russian defence ministry[14][10][11] — an Il-20 ELINT reconnaissance plane returning to Khmeimim Air Base, with 15 Russian servicemen on board, was hit by a Syrian S-200 surface-to-air missile 35 km from the Syrian coast.[15][16] The Russian military received a one minute warning prior to the attack, which it said was not enough time to get the Il-20 out of the way.[17] The plane′s sign disappeared from radars at 22:07.[10][11]

Russian officials initially said that the French frigate Auvergne launched missiles during the strikes in addition to the Israeli F-16's.[18][19][9] France denied any involvement.[19] The following day, Russia′s defence minister Sergey Shoygu said the Russian plane had been hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire; he, nevertheless, blamed Israel′s military for the accident because, according to the ministry, the Russian military had only received one minute’s warning from Israel about the impending missile strikes and the four Israeli F-16 jets that conducted the strikes deliberately used the Russian plane as cover to allow them to approach their targets on the ground without being hit by Syrian fire.[20][21] President Vladimir Putin later said that the MoD′s statement on the incident had been fully cleared with him.[22]

According to the Israeli military, the Israeli jets were already in Israeli airspace when the Il-20 was shot down.[23] According to Israel, the Syrian government is fully responsible for the missile fire, however Israel offered its condolences to Russia for the death of the crew.[24] According to the IDF spokesperson "The Syrian anti-aircraft batteries fired indiscriminately and, from what we understand, did not bother to ensure that no Russian planes were in the air", further adding that "The extensive and inaccurate Syrian anti-aircraft missile fire caused the Russian plane to be hit".[13]

The Israeli investigation, presented to Russian officials as well, concluded that a number of different Syrian SAM batteries fired dozens of missiles over a time span of approximately 40 minutes, well after the Israeli jets returned to their base. According to the Israeli investigation, Syrian missile fire was towards multiple directions - east inland, west to the sea, and southwards to Lebanon. According to the Israeli investigation, such Syrian use of "wild" missile fire of dozens of missiles, has become prevalent since the shoot-down of an Israeli F-16I on February 2018 and peaked in Operation House of Cards where some 170 missiles were launched at Israeli jets.[25]

On 18 September, Israel′s prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed regret and told Russian president Vladimir Putin that Syrian forces were to blame for the downing.[26] Putin described the incident as a "tragic chance events," appearing to downplay tensions with Israel.[27]

On 23 September 2018, the Russian defence ministry′s spokesman Igor Konashenkov re-affirmed the ministry′s earlier accusations of the Israeli military as the ″sole" culprit of the accident and presented a detailed account of the chain of events that led to the shootdown; he noted that all the Israeli fighter jets remained off the coast of Latakia after the shootdown and left the area at 22:40.[10][11][28][29][14] Konashenkov also stated that data gleaned from the S-400 air defense system and the position of all the aircraft at the moment of the September 17 incident, proved that an Israeli jet was using the larger Il-20 as a cover.[30]


On 24 September 2018, defense minister Sergei Shoigu said that within two weeks, the Syrian army would receive S-300 air-defense missile systems to strengthen Syria′s combat air defence capabilities. He added that the previous cancellation of the contract for S-300 delivery in 2013 had been due to Israel′s request but following the downing of a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft in Syria the situation had changed.[31][32][33] The S-300 would have modern IFF systems, which will prevent the missiles from targeting Russian aircraft.[31] He also announced a few other military measures Russia would undertake to protect Russian service members in Syria.[33] Russian president Vladimir Putin informed Syrian president Bashar Assad of the planned delivery in a telephone conversation the same day.[34]

See also


  1. "Russia to send newer, S-300 missile defense systems to Syria".
  2. "Russia to upgrade Syria's air defence systems after fatal downing of military aircraft".
  3. "Two soldiers killed in the violent missile attacks on the eastern outskirts of Latakia's suburbs".
  4. "Syria shot down Russian military reconnaissance plane, admits Kremlin".
  5. "Syrian air defences intercept missiles fired at Latakia - state media". Reuters. Retrieved 18 September 2018.
  6. "In rare move, IDF admits Syria strike, expresses sorrow over Russian plane". The Times of israel. 18 September 2018.
  7. Ensor, Josie; Luhn, Alec (18 September 2018). "Russia blames Israel for friendly fire attack on its aircraft by Syria which killed 15 servicemen" via
  8. Press, Jim Heintz, The Associated Press, Sarah El Deeb, The Associated (17 September 2018). "Russia, Turkey to create demilitarized zone for Syria's Idlib".
  9. Russian military jet carrying 14 servicemen vanishes off radar, The National, 18 September 2018
  10. Минобороны РФ предоставило факты, указывающие на вину Израиля в крушении Ил-20 в Сирии: В ведомстве отметили, что действия израильских летчиков-истребителей говорят как минимум о преступной халатности TASS, 23 September 2018.
  11. Создали угрозу: Российские военные целиком возложили вину за гибель самолета Ил-20 на Израиль Rossiyskaya Gazeta, 23 September 2018.
  12. Russia blames Israel after Syria downs plane while trying to repel attack Times of Israel, 18 September 2018
  14. Минобороны представило данные с радара С-400, доказывающие вину ВВС Израиля в гибели Ил-20 TASS, 24 September 2018.
  15. Russian IL-20 Surveillance Plane Went Down Off Syrian Coast During Israeli Missile Barrage (Updated), The Warzone BY TYLER ROGOWAY AND JOSEPH TREVITHICK, 17 September 2018
  16. Russia: Syrian missiles shot down Russian aircraft in crossfire, al-Jazeera 18 September 2018
  17. Russian aircrew deaths: Putin and Netanyahu defuse tension, BBC, 18 September 2018
  18. Plane shot down over Syria puts Russia-Israel relations to the test, Al-Monitor, Maxim A. Suchkov, 20 September 2018
  19. Russian 'fake news' machine going mad, says French envoy to U.S. Reuters, 18 September 2018.
  20. Шойгу: Россия не оставит без ответа действия Израиля, приведшие к гибели экипажа Ил-20: Глава Минобороны РФ заявил, что израильские истребители нанесли удары без предупреждения TASS, 18 September 2018.
  21. Putin sees chance circumstances behind downing of Russian plane off Syrian coast Reuters, 18 September 2018.
  22. Путин успокоил: ситуация с Израилем из-за сбитого Ил-20 не такая кризисная, как с Турцией из-за сбитого Су-24 NEWSru, 18 September 2018.
  23. Gal Perl Finkel, Don't 'poke the bear' in Syria, The Jerusalem Post, October 6, 2018.
  24. Syria accidentally shot down Russian military plane, Kremlin admits, Independent, 19 September 2018
  25. IDF presents Syrian attack report in Moscow, YNET, Yoav Zeitoun, 21 September 2018
  26. Netanyahu tells Putin Syria is to blame for downing of Russian plane, offers help with inquiry Reuters, 18 September 2018.
  27. Putin blames downing of Russian plane in Syria on ‘tragic chance events,’ plays down Israeli culpability Washington Post, 18 September 2018.
  28. Israeli Air Force solely to blame for Il-20 crash - Russian Defense Ministry TASS, 23 September 2018.
  29. "Russian Defence Ministry held a special briefing on curcumstances of the Russian Il-20 aircraft crash near the Syrian coast". Russian Defence Ministry. 23 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  31. "Syria to get Russia's S-300 air-defense missile system within two weeks". TASS. 24 September 2018. Retrieved 25 September 2018.
  32. Гутенев: реакция Израиля на инцидент с Ил-20 вынудила РФ на поставки С-300 в Сирию: Председатель комиссии Госдумы по правовому обеспечению развития ОПК отметил, что теперь израильские летчики не смогут прятаться за российскими самолетами TASS, 24 September 2018.
  33. Россия передаст Сирии С-300 в течение двух недель Kommersant, 24 September 2018.
  34. Путин обсудил с Асадом поставки российских комплексов С-300 в Сирию: В Кремле отметили, что президент сообщил сирийскому лидеру о дополнительных мерах по обеспечению безопасности военных РФ в республике TASS, 24 September 2018.

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