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Moscow (CNN)Syria inadvertently shot down a Russian military plane after an Israeli attack on Syrian positions, killing 15 people on board, Moscow said.
The Russian military said Tuesday that the Russian maritime patrol aircraft was shot down by Syrian regime anti-aircraft artillery amid the Israeli attack on Monday, state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

Moscow blamed Israel for putting its aircraft in the line of fire, Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti reported.

Starr, Barbara, Ryan Browne and Nathan Hodge. “Syria accidentally shot down a Russian military plane.” CNN Politics, September 18, 2018.

While it’s good that the IDF took out advanced weapons manufacturing facilities focused on producing missiles intended to challenge Israel’s existence (from the CNN report: “from which systems to manufacture accurate and lethal weapons were about to be transferred on behalf of Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon”), the attack will bring into focus the greater east-west conflict and run-up, perhaps, to greater direct engagement between Russian and Israeli (western-backed) forces.

Here’s the verbatim from earlier comment the editor made on Facebook:

Clearly, “Assad v The Terrorists” has half destroyed Syria (in the years since 2011 — give him a few more years in power, and the state will be gone altogether) but in a surreal fashion clings to the hope of destroying Israel and the Jews. The IDF’s target(s) appears to have been advanced weapons manufacturing facilities from which the output would have been used to challenge Israel.

Medieval Russia has been trying to recover its imperial and imperious attitude in its middle east presence. It may be suggested — at least I will do it — that it may have been shielding the Syrian manufacturing site with the presence of its surveillance aircraft. If true — and we may never know — that would account for Israel short notification to Russian military.

In the larger window: Washington has closed the PLO office serving as a proto-embassay and expelled its representative, a move congruent with the expulsion of Russian spies in the past couple of years. Before that closure, there has been of course the advancing of the U.S. Embassy into Jerusalem, another step forward toward forcing a conclusion to the middle east conflict.

This latest attack may represent further progress against what I have been calling the “phantoms of the Soviet”, i.e.,the continuation of older KGB-managed arrangements in the middle east.

What’s happening between Moscow and Washington and Damascus and Jerusalem is always war, as such may be in the nature of the political lives of nations, but this morning BackChannels feels it is seeing an amplification of conditions.  CNN last week reported a build-up in the presence of Russian warships off the Syrian coast (September 13, 2018).  About two months ago, the west appears to have  evacuated Syrian civilians and White Helmet volunteers into Jordan from  Assad’s theater.  Clearly, the west has been with the Syrian people — and Syrian Sunni Arabs — against the ravaging sadism of the Assad regime and its chief enablers in Moscow and Tehran.

This morning, one of BackChannels contacts said in a brief audio exchange, “The Syrian people are closer to the west anyway.  They would rather have Israel prevail in Syria rather than Assad and Iran.”

BackChannels doubts that Vladimir Putin, whose forces have bombed so many Syrian hospitals and abetted so much horror, pain, and sorrow visited on the children of Syria — adults and children — that the west would have him were he to somehow pivot westward.  Again, he has engaged in or produced active — blood soaking — conflicts in Syria and Crimea and appears to be surrounded in the chaos and horror he himself may have wanted as the “Phantom of the Soviet”.

Also from the awesome conversation:

The timing of this news is propitious, for today marks the evening start of Yom Kippur. The Jewish high holy days remain ever the target dates for anti-Semitic aggressors, essentially pulling the IDF and their support out of the synagogues and away from family on the most cherished and respected of religious observances.

Update – September 18, 2018

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin confirmed Tuesday that Israel did not shoot down a Russian military reconnaissance plane with 15 people on board, saying the downing of the plane by Syrian air defenses was a “chain of tragic accidental circumstances.”

Agencies and TOI Staff. “Putin says Israel did not shoot down Russian plane, calls it a tragic accident.” The Times of Israel, September 18, 2018.

Related comment from The Still Awesome Conversation:

Putin knows that to hold Russia’s place and avoid further ruin, he has to make Russia THE responsible actor in a different kind of competition with the west. In the TI piece, he may have signaled a small shift toward the west. No one knows, but now he has as much as said that he’s not going to act — at least not rashly — for Assad and Khamenei. He’s not going to play Erdogan demanding an apology from Israel for the Mavi Marmara incident — and, in retrospect, what a hideous thing that apology was!

Update, September 23, 2018

AP. “Russian Blames Israel for Downing of Plane by Syrian Forces.” VOA, September 23, 2018.

But Konashenkov on Sunday accused Israel of using the hotline to mislead Russia about its plans. He said the Russians were unable to get the Il-20 to a safe place because an Israeli duty officer had misled them, telling them of an Israeli operation in northern Syria while the jets were actually in Latakia, in the country’s west.

Konashenkov said an Israeli fighter jet flying over Syria’s Mediterranean coast shortly before the downing deliberately used the Russian plane as a shield, reflecting “either lack of professionalism or criminal negligence.”