JERUSALEM (JTA) – Israel’s Security Cabinet instructed the Israel Defense Forces to continue to act against Iran’s military buildup in Syria and to continue security coordination with Russia.
The instructions issued on Tuesday come a week after the downing of a Russian surveillance plane by Syrian anti-aircraft fire in the area of an Israeli air strike on a facility of the Syrian armed forces. Fifteen Russian troops were killed in the incident.
The Security Cabinet blamed the incident on the “irresponsible actions” of the Syrian military, saying in a statement Tuesday following its meeting that the Cabinet ministers “share the sorrow of the families in Russia and the Russian people for the loss of the lives of the crew of the Russian plane as a result of irresponsible actions by the Syrian army.”
Russia’s Defence Ministry on Sunday blamed the crash on what it said was misleading information provided by Israel’s Air Force about the location of its airstrikes on targets in Syria, preventing the Russian plane in the area from moving to a safe zone, a charge that Israel has denied.
The Security Cabinet meeting came a day after Russia announced it would provide the Syrian military with its state-of-the-art S-300 air defense system and said it would jam radars of military planes striking from off the coast of the Mediterranean.
Russia had agreed in 2010 and again in 2013 to sell the S-300 system to Syria, but broke the agreement at Israel’s request. In April, Russia again said it would supply the system at no cost as part of its military aid to Syria.
The jamming technology reportedly was delivered to Syria on Monday and the S-300 system could arrive in up to two weeks.
Prime Minister Benjamen Netanyahu spoke by telephone on Monday with Russian President Vladimir Putin.
During the conversation, Netanyahu expressed his confidence in the credibility of the IDF investigation into the incident, which rejected claims that Israel used the Russian Ilyushin IL-20 airplane as a shield against the Syrian anti-missile system.
Netanyahu addressed the Russian promise to provide the Syrian military with the advanced surface-to-air missiles saying that “transferring advanced weapons systems into irresponsible hands will increase the dangers in the region,” and added that Israel will continue to defend its security and its interests.
U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said on Monday that the Russian plan to supply Syria with the S-300 missile system would be a “significant escalation” by Moscow and that he hopes Russia “would reconsider.”
“There shouldn’t be any misunderstanding here … The party responsible for the attacks in Syria and Lebanon and really the party responsible for the shooting down of the Russian plane is Iran,” he told reporters on Monday, Reuters reported.