TEL AVIV (Sputnik) – Israel’s relations with Russia exclude the likelihood of an Israeli Air Force (IAF) jet shooting down a Russian aircraft, a senior IAF officer told local media on Thursday.
“Israel will not attack or down any Russian aircraft,” the unnamed officer told the Ynet online outlet.
Israel was among the first to establish direct lines of communication with Russia to safeguard the respective armed forces from accidental encounters and other dangerous incidents in Syrian airspace.
Russia launched anti-terrorist airstrikes in Syria at the request of the Arab republic’s leadership on September 30. Israel shares intelligence with the US-led coalition against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the Israeli defense minister said last year.
The IAF officer said it was Tel Aviv’s policy not to attack, shoot down or intercept a single Russian aircraft, including even if an Israeli radar locks in on one as a target.
“The Russians are here, they are a major player and cannot be ignored. Our approach is ‘live and let live’. Russia is not the enemy, on the contrary,” the officer stressed.
On Tuesday, a Russian Su-24 Fencer crashed in Syria. Russian President Vladimir Putin said that the plane was downed by an air-to-air missile launched by a Turkish F-16 jet over Syrian territory, falling 2.5 miles from the Turkish border. Putin described the Turkish attack as a “stab in the back” carried out by “accomplices of terrorists.”