Syria's Assad blames Israel over downing of Russian plane

Syria's Assad blames Israel over downing of Russian planePresident Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday blamed Israel for the downing of a Russian plane, which was accidentally hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire during an Israeli missile strike. “This unfortunate incident was the result of Israeli arrogance and depravity,” the Syrian leader said, offering his condolences in a letter to his Russian counterpart for the death of 15 Russian crew members killed in the incident over Syria on Monday. The Russian plane was downed by Syria’s Russian-made S-200 air defence system and all aboard were killed.


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Syria's Bashar al-Assad blames Israel over downing of Russian plane, heightening tensions

Syria's Bashar al-Assad blames Israel over downing of Russian plane, heightening tensionsPresident Bashar al-Assad on Wednesday blamed Israel for the downing of a Russian plane, which was accidentally hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire during an Israeli missile strike. His intervention risks provoking fresh tensions a day after Moscow and Tel Aviv moved to de-escalate a row that threatened to build into a military confrontation.  “This unfortunate incident was the result of Israeli arrogance and depravity,” the Syrian leader said, offering his condolences in a letter to his Russian counterpart for the death of 15 Russian crew members killed in the incident over Syria on Monday. “We are determined that such tragic events will sway neither you nor us from continuing the fight against terrorism,” he continued in the letter published by the official Sana agency. The Russian plane was shot down by Syria’s Russian-made S-200 air defence system and all aboard were killed on Tuesday. The Russian military has accused Israeli pilots of using the Russian plane as cover, “exposing it to fire from Syrian air defences” while they mounted an air raid.  Israel said it had targeted a Syrian military facility where weapons manufacturing systems were “about to be transferred on behalf of Iran” to Lebanese Shia group Hizbollah. Putin wants to claim victory in Syria – but needs to watch for his old ally Iran It was the worst “friendly fire” incident between Moscow and the Syrian regime since Russian forces intervened in the country in late 2015 to support Mr Assad whose grip on power had been weakened by rebels and jihadist fighters. Vladmir Putin, the Russian president, had struck a conciliatory tone a day earlier describing the incident as the result of “tragic accidental circumstances,” but warning Benjamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, against carrying out such operations in the future and promiding to beef up security for Russian forces in Syria. Russia military aircraft (Il-20) disappeared of the coast of Syria Mr Netanyahu on Tuesday expressed his “sorrow” to Mr Putin in a phone call, offering to assist Moscow in the investigation. However he insisted the Russian plane had been felled by “extensive and inaccurate Syrian anti-aircraft (fire)”. In recent months Israel has increased its attacks in Syria against the regime or its ally Iran.


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Assad 'has been warned' on Idlib chemical use: Mattis

Assad 'has been warned' on Idlib chemical use: MattisUS Defense Secretary Jim Mattis stressed Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has been well warned against any chemical weapons use in an anticipated assault on Idlib province. The Assad regime has twice been targeted by US air and missile strikes after previous alleged chemical attacks, and US officials have in recent days said additional action would follow if Assad were to use the banned weapons in rebel-held Idlib. “In Idlib, we’re watching very closely what the Assad regime, aided and abetted by the Iranians and the Russians are up to there,” Mattis told Pentagon reporters.


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Amid 'bloodbath' fears, US warns Assad against using chemical weapons

Amid 'bloodbath' fears, US warns Assad against using chemical weaponsWith the United Nations warning of a potential “bloodbath” in Syria’s Idlib province, the United States warned President Bashar al-Assad on Tuesday it would respond “swiftly and appropriately” if he uses chemical weapons against his own people. As Syrian troops massed near the northwestern region of nearly three million people, the last major rebel stronghold, renewed Russian airstrikes killed at least nine civilians, according to a violence monitor. Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said the UN Security Council would meet on Friday to discuss the precarious situation in the province.


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Iran's defense minister meets Assad, Syrian counterpart in Damascus

Iran's defense minister meets Assad, Syrian counterpart in Damascus(Reuters) – Iranian Defence Minister Amir Hatami arrived in Syria on Sunday for meetings with President Bashar al-Assad and senior defense and military officials as part of a two-day visit, according to the Tasnim news agency. Iranian forces have backed Assad in the country’s civil war. “Not only the people of the region, but the people of the world are indebted to the battles that have taken place against terrorists in Syria,” Hatami told Assad in a meeting, according to Tasnim.


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'Victory is near,' Syria's Assad tells troops

'Victory is near,' Syria's Assad tells troopsSyrian President Bashar al-Assad told his troops on Wednesday they were close to winning the country’s seven-year civil war after inflicting a succession of defeats on rebels. Early last year, government forces held just 17 percent of national territory but a series of blistering offensives has since forced the rebels out of many of their strongholds, putting Assad’s government in control of nearly two-thirds of the country. “Our date with victory is near,” Assad wrote in an open letter to the rank and file.


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Who's Attacking Syria? US, Turkey and Israel Have Shot Down Assad's Warplanes

  1. Who’s Attacking Syria? US, Turkey and Israel Have Shot Down Assad’s Warplanes  Newsweek
  2. Israel shoots down Syrian fighter jet as fighting escalates on edge of Golan Heights  Los Angeles Times
  3. Israel Shoots Down Syrian Jet Fighter  Wall Street Journal
  4. Israel Defends Itself by Downing Syrian Fighter Jet – but Won’t Interrupt Assad’s Return to the Border  Haaretz
  5. Full coverage


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Hundreds of Syrian Rescuers Evacuated by Israel as Assad Tightens Grip on Rebel Areas

  1. Hundreds of Syrian Rescuers Evacuated by Israel as Assad Tightens Grip on Rebel Areas  Wall Street Journal
  2. Israel rescues Syrian volunteers stranded in border area  ABC News
  3. Syria conflict: Israel evacuates White Helmets  BBC News
  4. Syrian refugees cling to life on Golan Heights as Assad’s net tightens  The Guardian
  5. Full coverage


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