Russian Air Force Ilyushin Il-20 electronic reconnaissance aircraft with 14 servicemen on board disappeared over the Mediterranean Sea, an official with Russia’s Defense Ministry told reporters on 18 September.
Air traffic controllers at Khmeimim Airbase “lost contact” with the aircraft on Monday evening, during an attack by Israeli F-16 fighters on Latakia. The Russian maritime reconnaissance aircraft was 35km off the coast of Syria when it vanished.
According to the CNN, the Il-20aircraft with multiple personnel on board was inadvertently shot down by Syrian regime anti-aircraft artillery on Monday after the Syrians came under attack by Israeli missiles, according to a US official with knowledge of the incident.
The US official said the regime was actually trying to stop a barrage of Israeli missiles. A second official confirmed that Israel was responsible for the missile strikes on the Syrian regime.
The US found out about the incident because Syrian forces broadcast an emergency search and rescue radio call on an international frequency. The US then got a direct message from another country about the type of aircraft and circumstances of the incident. The official would not identify that country, but it is likely that Russia is the only nation that would know exactly what type of aircraft was shot down.
A spokesman for the Pentagon told CNN that the missiles were not fired by the US military but would not speak as to who was behind the strikes. An Israel Defense Forces spokesman declined to comment on the reports.
But Russia’s official also said that at the same time, the Russian radars fixed missile launches from the French frigate Auvergne, which was in that area.