By staff and agencies

Israeli airstrikes on Damascus suburbs put at risk Iranian flight: Russia

February 7, 2020 - 20:17

Russian Defense Ministry has said that Israeli strikes on Damascus suburbs put an Iranian civilian aircraft carrying 172 passengers in serious danger.

An Airbus A320 flying from Tehran to the Syrian capital was forced to make an emergency landing following an Israeli missile attack, the Russian Defense Ministry said, according to RT.

It added that using civilian aircraft as a “shield” is commonplace for Israeli Air Force pilots.

Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Major General Igor Konashenkov said, “The Israeli general staff's use of passenger jets as a cover for its military operations or as a shield from Syrian missile system fire is becoming a typical trait of Israeli air force.”

The aircraft was about to land at Damascus International Airport, but was unable do so as the Syrian air defense systems engaged the hostile targets. The jet could have found itself in the crossfire if it weren’t for the Damascus air traffic control, whose “timely actions” averted a possible disaster.

The A320 was landed “at the closest alternative airfield,” the ministry stated. It also said the surprise attack took place around 2 a.m. local time, with four Israeli F-16s firing at least eight air-to-surface missiles from outside of Syrian airspace.

According to Press TV, Konashenkov said, “Only due to timely actions of the Damascus airport dispatchers and the efficient operation of the automated air traffic control system, the Airbus-320 managed to… successfully land at the closest alternative airfield.”

The spokesman stressed that Israel was well aware of civilian flights around Damascus and that such missions demonstrated the regime’s reckless disregard for human lives.

Russia had previously warned that Israeli airstrikes against Damascus were endangering civilian jets.

Lebanese officials have also stated that Israeli jets illegally conducting operations against Syria from the country’s airspace pose a danger to civilian aircraft in Lebanon.

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