TEL AVIV, September 20. /TASS/. Israeli Air Force Chief Major General Amikam Norkin arrived in Moscow on Thursday to hand information concerning the downing of the Ilyushin Il-20 aircraft over to Russian authorities, Israel Defense Forces Spokesman Jonathan Conricus told TASS.
“Yes, I can confirm,” he said in response to a question as to whether the air force chief was on a visit to Moscow.
On Wednesday night, the Israeli Defense Forces said that Norkin would fly to Moscow on Thursday morning to provide Russia with information about the September 17 incident, including conclusions drawn by Israel. Norkin is accompanied by head of the International Cooperation Unit Brigadier General Erez Maisel and officers from the Intelligence Directorate and the Operations Directorate.
Kremlin Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said on Wednesday that Russian President Vladimir Putin in a Tuesday telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had agreed to allow a group of experts led by the Israeli air force chief to bring their data on the Il-20 crash to Moscow. Peskov added that as far as the downing of the aircraft was concerned, Putin was guided by information provided by the Russian Defense Ministry but Russian experts would also study the information Israel would share.
Downing of Il-20 aircraft
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, on September 17, contact was lost with a Russian Il-20 aircraft flying over the Mediterranean Sea back to the Russian Hmeimim air base in Syria. The ministry said the aircraft had disappeared from radar during an airstrike four Israeli F-16 fighter jets carried out on targets in the Syrian province of Latakia.
On September 18, the Russian Defense Ministry stated that the Il-20 aircraft had been accidently downed by Syrian air defense as the Israeli F-16 jets had been using it as cover. According to Defense Ministry Spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov, Israeli pilots “could not but see the Russian plane, which was approaching the runway from an altitude of five kilometers.” The ministry added that it considered such actions by Israel to be hostile.
Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu held a telephone call with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman, stating that Israel was solely to blame for the downing of Russia’s Il-20 aircraft over the Mediterranean Sea.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said in a statement that the country “will share all the relevant information with the Russian Government to review the incident and to confirm the facts in this inquiry.”.