According to an IDF senior official, Israel and Russia will examine how to improve the coordination mechanism between the two countries after a Russian plane was shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft fire resulting in the deaths of all 15 crewmen on board on Monday.
A military delegation headed by Israeli Air Force (IAF) Commander Major General Amikam Norkin returned Friday from Moscow after presenting Russia the IDF report describing the attack on Latakia.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a meeting with the security brass, during which Norkin conveyed him the details about the talks held in Moscow.
Netanyahu instructed the top officials to remain in close contact with Russia.
The senior official confirmed the main points of the investigation reported by the IAF on Thursday. According to the report, the Syrian air defense system shot over 20 different types of missiles, including large SA-5 missiles, which struck the Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft.
The official added that the coordination between the Russian military and the IDF—as part of a routine operation in the Middle East—was successful today.
He also confirmed that the duration of the Syrian antiaircraft fire was "considerable." According to the findings of the investigation, it lasted more than 40 minutes.
"Syria launched most of its missiles while the our planes were already in Israel's territory and the missiles fired at the Russian plane were fired after our planes had already landed at their base.
“The Syrians fired, during previous incidents as well as during this incident, anti-aircraft fire in an irresponsible manner, in all directions, and in a way that endangers anyone flying over the area," he stated.
The official noted that the main meeting between the two sides led by the commander of the Russian air force and held at the Defense Ministry in Moscow with the attendance of Russian officers, lasted several hours.
At the meeting, a Russian-Israeli hotline audio tape was played with talks held between the IAF headquarters at the Kirya in Tel Aviv and the Russian base in Syria.
"Our notification of the operation was given more than a minute before the attack (contrary to the Russian claim). We left them a copy of the recording, as well as the main points of the investigation. We showed them proof regarding the site being attacked, the significance of the attack and its consequences. We feel that our data has been received in an objective and transparent manner. The claim that we used the Russian plane as provocation is incorrect and we proved it," the official elaborated.
According to the military source, the investigation presented to the Russia included several main issues.
Among them, proof of Iran's continued military entrenchment in Syria and evidence that the war-torn country has been transferring weapons to Hezbollah.
In addition, the IDF discussed the operation carried out over Latakia and the incident in which the Russian plane was downed by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.
“The meeting was professional and to the point, it focused on the chronology of the events, recordings and other evidence," the official said. "We hid nothing at the meeting nor during the operation. Everything was done according to procedures.
"We presented all the information we had about the Russian plane, which was east of Latakia, dozens of kilometers from the attack zone," he explained.
The official added that the Russian officers had a number of clarification questions during the meeting, regarding technical issues such as certain maps they wanted to examine, and which were later displayed by the delegation.
"The 'deconfliction mechanisms'" has been operating in an organized, successful and ongoing manner for about two and a half years with the Russian army, and our aim is that it continues so in the future. Each side will examine the adjustments required for the continuation of Israeli freedom of action.
“During the meeting, the Russian and Israeli interests in the region were also presented. We elaborated a number of similar past incidents during which Syrian anti-aircraft fire was fired indiscriminately. Israel's firm stance against the transfer of weapons to Hezbollah and the entrenchment of Iran in Syria has been made clear to the Russians, and we intend to continue to act according to this policy. Any questions they raised were answered with transparency and we also invited them to Israel to further discuss the matter,” the official said.
Over the past few days, Israel has also updated American defense establishment elements and US administration officials at all levels about the incident and its developments.