26 Dec, 2018
Russia’s Defense Ministry has said Israel carried out airstrikes on Syrian targets as two civilian flights were landing in Beirut and Damascus, putting passengers at risk.
The Israeli military put two civilian airliners in immediate danger, Igor Konashenkov, the Defense Ministry spokesman, told reporters. “Provocative acts by the Israeli Air Force endangered two passenger jets when six of their F-16s carried out airstrikes on Syria from Lebanese airspace.”
The IDF’s F-16 flew in as civilian jets were landing at Beirut and Damascus airport. The Syrian military didn’t deploy surface-to-air missiles and electronic jamming “to prevent a tragedy” and let Damascus air traffic control divert one of the passenger jets to a reserve airport in Khmeimim.
The Israeli Air Force used as many as 16 US-made laser-guided GBU-39 bombs, but only two of them reached their targets. Most were intercepted by Syria’s air defenses, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.
Two precision munitions hit a logistics compound 7km away from Damascus, injuring three personnel there.
The statement largely confirmed a previous report by Syria’s state-run news agency SANA that went public overnight. Israel has not confirmed the strikes, but reported that the IDF activated its air defense systems to shoot down a Syrian anti-aircraft missile.
Head of IDF’s International Media Branch has refused to comment on the allegations to Russian media.
Israel repeatedly carried out strikes on targets on Syrian soil that it regards as threats to its security. Damascus blasts those strikes as illegitimate acts of aggression and has threatened not to let them go unanswered.
Syrian airspace has seen a number of dangerous incidents. In September, a tragic sequence of events led to the downing of a Russian surveillance Il-20 plane, which killed all 15 crew on board. The plane was shot down by Syrian air defense units as Israel’s F-16s effectively used it as cover during the attack on its neighbor.
Israel firmly denied any culpability.