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Israel Was Moments From Downing Russian Jet

The Times of Israel: Former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon said that Israel was moments from shooting down a Russian air force jet that was heading toward Israeli airspace, but manged to get the Russians to call it back at the last moment.

Ya’alon made the remarks to the Russian news agency Novosti and was referring to an incident that occurred in 2015, just after Israel and Russia instituted a series of mechanisms to coordinate activities-in the skies of Syria and avoid accidental clashes.

According to Ya’alon, Israel identified the plane approaching Israeli airspace and was prepared to take it down if it did not change course. However, it managed to make contact with the control at the Russian Hmeimim base and after warnings, the jet changed direction.

In September 2015 Israel and Russia put in place a deconfliction agreement, which outlined a mechanism to avoid unintended clashes between the activity of the IDF and the Russian army.

It came just after Turkey shot down a Russian jet that was flying along the Turkish Syria border.

Israel has acknowledged in the past that Russian pilots had breached Israeli air space during operations in Syria but that the mechanism in place between the two countries have so far prevented any major escalation or incidents.

Israel has carried out several air raids in Syria and been blamed for several more. In February, Syrian air defenses managed to shoot down an Israeli F-16 that was carrying out a strike on an Iranian base in Syria after Iranian operators flew an explosive-laden drone into Israel.

There are no known cases of Russia using its anti-aircraft systems against Israeli jets in Syria.

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