Source: www.i24news Posted Fri., April 22, 2016
Russia on Friday denied a report that its military forces have fired on Israeli Air Force planes on at least two occasions over Syria in recent weeks, calling them “far from reality.”
“In this case, Israeli press reports are far from reality,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told a conference call with journalists, Reuters reports.
According to a report by Israel’s Hebrew-language Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper published Friday, the alleged incidents were the reason for a meeting between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Russian President Vladimir Putin which took place in Moscow on Thursday.
Putin had not been aware of the incidents before they were brought to his attention by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin duing his trip to Moscow last month, Yedioth Ahronoth reported.
Israel and Russia last year established a coordination mechanism intended to prevent misunderstandings between their air forces as Russia began carrying out airstrikes in Syria in support of President Bashar Assad’s regime forces.
Israeli media on Tuesday reported a close aerial encounter between Israeli Air Force fighter jets and Russian warplanes along the Syrian border, several days before Netanyahu’s trip to Moscow.
According to multiple reports, a Russian jet was scrambled to inctercept Israeli military aircraft operating along the Syrian frontier. While the reason behind the incident was unclear, reports indicated that the planes did not make contact and the Israeli aircraft continued on their course of duty unobstructed.
Israel’s Channel 2 said that contacts between Israeli and Russian officials through the coordination mechanism established last year prevented a more serious incident.
During his meeting with Putin on Thursday, Netanyahu spoke of the importance of security cooperation between the two countries, and confirmed a separate follow-up meeting would be held between Israeli Air Force Commander Amir Eshel, Russian defense minister and other senior Russian security officials, in order to further discuss security coordination between the two countries.
The two sides had made “progress” on an issue that is “very important to Israel’s security,” the Israeli prime minister said.