Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Netanyahu, Putin to diffuse tension after plane downing




Netanyahu, Putin to diffuse tension after plane downing

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
Russian President Vladimir Putin (right) meets with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Kremlin in Moscow on May 9.sergei ilnitsky/afp

Netanyahu, Putin to diffuse tension after plane downing

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin sought to defuse a crisis on Tuesday after Syrian defences mistakenly downed a Russian warplane after Israeli air strikes.

The incident late Monday was the deadliest known case of friendly fire between Syria and its key backer Russia since Moscow’s game-changing 2015 military intervention.

The Ilyushin plane dropped off the radar over the Mediterranean after Turkey and Russia announced a deal that offered millions of people reprieve from a threatened military assault in northern Syria’s Idlib province.

The deadly chain of events started when Israeli missiles struck the coastal region of Latakia.

Israel said it had targeted a Syrian military facility where weapons manufacturing systems were “about to be transferred on behalf of Iran” to Lebanese Shiite group Hezbollah.

It sees Iran’s military presence in Syria as a threat, and Netanyahu told Putin by phone on Tuesday his forces would keep acting against it.

“Israel is determined to stop Iranian military entrenchment in Syria, and the attempts by Iran, which calls for the destruction of Israel, to transfer to Hezbollah lethal weaponry (to be used) against Israel,” said Netanyahu.

Israel expressed “sorrow” for the Russian deaths, but insisted the Russian plane had been felled by “extensive and inaccurate Syrian anti-aircraft (surface-to-air missile) fire”.

Putin said Russia would beef up security for its forces in Syria, in what he called “steps that everyone will notice”.

The Kremlin said Putin also warned Netanyahu against carrying out such operations in the future.

Putin “reminded” Netanyahu that such operations “violated Syrian sovereignty” and said “agreements around the prevention of dangerous incidents were not observed”.

The plane, downed by Syria’s Russian-made S-200 air defence system, had a crew of 15 who were all killed, Moscow said.

‘Tragic miscalculation’

The Russian military accused Israeli pilots of using “the Russian plane as a cover, exposing it to fire from Syrian air defences”.

Israel denied the accusations, saying its jets were already back in Israeli airspace when Syrian forces launched the missiles that hit the Russian plane.

Russia stressed the incident would have no impact on the Idlib deal, but warned Israel of reprisals and summoned its envoy in Moscow.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo also expressed “sorrow” over the Russian deaths, and said the incident showed “the danger of tragic miscalculation in Syria’s crowded theatre of operations”.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said some missiles, suspected to be Israeli, did get through the Syrian defences and struck ammunition depots at the site of the technical industries institute.

Rami Abdel Rahman, the head of the Britain-based monitoring group, said at least two fighters were killed and 10 wounded in the strike.

The Syrian blunder came hot on the heels of a major deal announced by Putin and his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan after talks in the Russian resort of Sochi.

The two key actors agreed to create a demilitarised zone, 15-20 kilometres wide, along the line of contact between rebels and regime troops in the Idlib region.

That would be implemented by October 15.

The demilitarised zone will be secured with the help of “mobile patrol groups of Turkish contingents and contingents of Russian military police”, Putin said.

By the end of the year, transport routes must be restored between Latakia and Aleppo, as well as those linking the port to Hama city, he added.

MOST VIEWED

  • ADB says Kingdom to lose 390,000 jobs

    The Asian Development Bank (ADB) predicts Cambodia will suffer 390,000 job losses this year due to the Covid-19 pandemic. But it congratulated the government for its response to the crisis and its cash transfer programme for the poor and vulnerable. Last Wednesday, the ADB approved a $250

  • Fish with human-like teeth makes splash

    An image of a fish of the family Balistidae with human-like features made its rounds on social media after a Twitter user snapped a photo of his catch in Malaysia. The original post has received 675 comments, 8,200 retweets and more than 14,000 likes as of Tuesday. Astonishing

  • Gov’t not using EU aid for poor

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Tuesday refuted as “baseless”, claims that the government had used financial aid from the EU to implement the programme to identify and support poor and vulnerable people during the Covid-19 pandemic. The prime minister was responding to Roth Sothy, a

  • Royal Group inks $35 million road deal on Koh Rong

    Royal Group Koh Rong Development Company and Sinohydro Corporation Limited reached a $35 million deal on Tuesday to build a 70km road on Koh Rong Island. The road will be 8m wide and is expected to take 16 months to complete, according to the plan approved by

  • Thai fence said to prevent illegal crossing

    Battambang and Banteay Meanchey provincial police say Thailand is not invading Cambodia after a series of social media posts about fences being built on the border raised alarms. Banteay Meanchey police chief Ath Khem said on Tuesday the information on social media on Sunday and

  • Nine more students from Saudi Covid-19 positive

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said preventing the spread of Covid-19 depends on each citizen. He expressed concern that the pandemic will continue for longer. Hun Sen said this after nine Cambodian students who recently returned to the Kingdom from Saudi Arabia were found to be

  • PM to vet NY holiday dates

    The Ministry of Economy and Finance submitted a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen asking him to formally set a five-day national holiday from August 17-21 to make up for the Khmer New Year holiday in April that was postponed. Finance minister Aun Pornmoniroth sent

  • Cambodia rejects UN rights claim

    Cambodia's Permanent Mission to the UN Office in Geneva on Friday hit back at David Kaye, the UN special rapporteur on the Promotion and Protection of the Right to Freedom of Opinion and Expression after he raised concerns over the repression of free speech and

  • Snaring may spawn diseases

    The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has warned that snaring of animals has become a crisis that poses a serious risk to wildlife in Southeast Asia and could spawn the transmission of zoonotic diseases to humans. Its July 9 report entitled Silence of the Snares: Southeast Asia’

  • Ex-party leader, gov’t critic named as secretary of state

    A former political party leader known for being critical of the government has been appointed secretary of state at the Ministry of Rural Development, a royal decree dated July 9 said. Sourn Serey Ratha, the former president of the Khmer Power Party (KPP), told The Post