A Russian passenger plane with nearly 172 people on board was forced to make an emergency landing as Syria nearly shot it down. Russian state news agency quoted Russia's defence ministry spokesperson on February 7 saying that Airbus A320 had to land in Russia-controlled Khmeimim airbase after its ally, Syrian air defence, nearly attacked it while repulsing an Israeli attack near Damascus on February 6.
Moscow also reportedly accused the Israeli defence forces of using Russian civilian planes as a shield during the attack on Thursday. According to the spokesperson, after midnight at around 2:00am (local time), four Israeli F-16 fighter jets had hit eight air-to-ground missiles in the suburbs of Damascus without entering Syria's airspace.
The flight data of Russian civilian plane at the time of attack suggest that it was operated by Syrian Cham Wings airline. However, Moscow credited the safe landing of its plane away from the danger zone to prompt actions of dispatchers at Damascus airport along with the effective work of system monitoring air traffic.
While lauding the Damascus officials, Russia also accused Israeli defence forces of their 'typical practice' of using civilian aircraft as a protective cloud against Syria while referring to a case happened in 2018. The Syrian military had shot down a Russian spy plane while responding to an Israeli strike over Syria in 2018. Russia later declared that Israeli military was responsible for the accident which killed 15 crew members and said Jerusalem had used Moscow's plane as a shield.
However, even though, Israeli military bluntly denied allegations by Russia that IDF jets were used as a shield, the incident let to diplomatic tensions between both countries. But the multiple strikes on targets near Damascus reportedly killed more than 20 Iranian and foreign fighters and Syrian state media blames Israel for them.
(Credit Image: AP)