Russia plane downing in Syria causes Russia-Israel rift

The Latest: Russia says Syrian missile brought down aircraft

"On behalf of the Syrian people and by my name, we express our deep condolence over the fall of the Russian jet on the Mediterranean, causing the martyrdom of the Russian heroes who were doing their noble duties along with their colleagues of the Russian military forces in the fight against terrorism in Syria", Assad said in his letter of condolences to Putin.

The Russian plane was downed by a Russian-made S-200 air defense supplied to Syria.

On Wednesday, Hezbollah's leader Hassan Nasrallah said the Shiite movement would stay in Syria "until further notice".

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu discussed the matter with his Israeli counterpart Avigdor Lieberman on Tuesday, warning that Moscow could retaliate with unspecified "measures".

He also pledged to beef up security for Russian forces in Syria, which three years ago stepped in to support Assad whose grip on power had been weakened by rebels and jihadist fighters.

In a statement, Manelis said that Israel "expresses sorrow for the death of the aircrew members of the Russian plane that was downed tonight due to Syrian anti-aircraft fire", but added that Israel holds the Assad regime-and its Lebanese allies-fully responsible for the incident.

Israel has been increasing its strikes inside Syria, protesting Iran and Hezbollah's growing influence there.

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But President Vladimir Putin, who spoke to his Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu by phone on Tuesday, then called it "a chain of tragic chance events" although he added that Russian Federation needed to "seriously get to the bottom of what happened".

"We will remain there even after the Idlib accord", Nasrallah said, referring to a Russia-Turkey deal to prevent a Syrian regime offensive on the country's last rebel-held stronghold. These weapons were meant to attack Israel, and posed an intolerable threat against it. Some 15 Russian servicemen were killed in the crash, causing a tiff between Russia and Israel, which had been coordinating Syria policy.

Arguing that the military manuevers leading up to their plane being shot down were intentional, Konashenkov said the Israelis "deliberately staged this provocation" and accused Israel of creating a unsafe situation for both aircraft and sea vessels operating in that area.

Syrian air defences shot down the Russian military plane on Monday, killing all 15 soldiers aboard, after Israeli missiles had struck the coastal region of Latakia.

Israel, for its part, denied any responsibility, instead blaming Syria's Assad regime for the incident.

However following anger among Russia's military brass and threats of "retaliation", Putin "reminded" Netanyahu that such operations "violated Syrian sovereignty" and said "agreements around the prevention of unsafe incidents were not observed", according to the Kremlin.

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