07:44 GMT26 February 2020
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    On Friday, the Russian Defence Ministry said that the Israeli airstrikes on Damascus suburbs on 6 February endangered a passenger plane with 172 people on board, prompting it to divert to Russia’s Hmeymim airbase in Syria.

    A passenger jetliner, which was nearly destroyed by the Israeli air force during its airstrike on Damascus earlier this week, was flying from Iraq rather than Iran, according to the tracking website flightradar24.com.

    The portal identified the plane as the Cham Wing Airlines-owned Airbus A320-211, which had flight number 6Q514 and which was flying from the southern Iraqi city of An-Najaf.

    An Israeli F-16I fighter jet lands during the Blue Flag multinational air defense exercise that is organized from the Ovda air force base over the Negev Desert. File photo
    © AP Photo / JACK GUEZ
    An Israeli F-16I fighter jet lands during the "Blue Flag" multinational air defense exercise that is organized from the Ovda air force base over the Negev Desert

    The website’s playback of Flight 6Q514 confirmed the identity of the plane trying to land at a Damascus airport but then abruptly changing direction and flying towards Russia’s Hmeymim Airbase in Syria.

    The Flightradar’s data come after the Russian Defence Ministry stated on Friday that the Israeli F-16 fighter jets’ strikes on Damascus suburbs had put a civilian aircraft on serious risk and forced it to divert to Hmeymim after Syrian air defences were activated to repel the attack.

    According to the Ministry’s spokesman Igor Konashenkov, an Airbus A320 en route from Tehran to Damascus was forced to make an emergency landing following an Israeli missile attack.

    He praised air traffic controllers’ “timely actions” which prevented the plane with 172 people on board from being in the crossfire after the Syrian air defence systems started engaging the hostile targets.

    Konashenkov said that the A320 finally landed “at the closest alternative airfield”, adding that the attack took place at about 2 a.m. local time after four Israeli F-16s fired at least eight air-to-surface missiles from outside of Syrian airspace.

    He added that using civilian aircraft as a “shield” is not uncommon among Israeli Air Force pilots.

    Downing of Russia's Il-20 Plane

    In 2018, Syria’s air defences downed a Russian IL-20 military aircraft after Israeli F-16 pilots used it as cover, killing the plane’s 15-strong crew.

    While Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu laid the blame for the incident on Israel, the Jewish state pointed the finger at Damascus, Tehran and the militant group Hezbollah.

    Israel has repeatedly accused Iran of supporting of what Tel Aviv describes as “terrorist” groups such as Hezbollah and Hamas, and of waging proxy wars in countries such as Syria which could pose a threat to Israel's security. Iran denies the allegations, accusing Israel and its allies of engaging in military aggression throughout the region.

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    Tags:
    air defence system, plane, airstrike, Russia, Turkey, Israel
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