Russian IL-20M (Ilyushin 20m) aircraft

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Israel’s coordination with Russia on its attacks in Syria remains unchanged despite the deadly downing of a Russian plane and the Jewish state retains its right to decide on military actions, an Israeli official said Friday.

“There have been no changes to the deconfliction mechanism as a result of this unfortunate event,” the military official said on condition of anonymity, referring to Monday’s downing following Israeli air strikes.

He said the two sides had committed to the “very effective” mechanism but stressed that Israel’s “freedom of movement is paramount”.

The arrangement was agreed by Israel and Russia in 2015, when Russian forces intervened alongside the regime in Syria to avoid clashes between their militaries inside Syrian territory.

Israel regularly carries out strikes in war-torn Syria against the Syrian government, its Lebanese ally Hezbollah and Iranian targets.

But Syrian air defences on Monday night mistakenly struck a Russian Il-20 military plane after an Israeli raid on a Syrian army facility, killing all 15 crew members.

The Russian military accused Israeli pilots of using “the Russian plane as a cover, exposing it to fire from Syrian air defences”, saying they reserved the right to respond.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin, however, later adopted a more conciliatory tone, saying the incident was the result of “tragic accidental circumstances”.

An Israeli military delegation travelled to Moscow on Thursday to express sorrow over the deaths and to share information with Russian counterparts on the incident.

– AFP

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