Il-20 / aviarf.ru; Image
Earlier today, a Russian Il-20 was shot down during a missile attack in Latakia province in Syria, killing all 15 Russian service members on board. The Russian Ministry of Defense officially blamed Israel whom it claims attacked Syria and did not warn Russia until “one minute before” the assault began, using the Russian plane as “cover” to avoid the Syrian defense system shooting its planes down. Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu also declared that he had spoken to his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, and informed him that Russia “won’t leave Israeli actions unanswered.” NBC News reported:
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, the Israeli F-16 jets carrying out the airstrikes used the Russian plane as a cover to allow them to approach their targets on the ground without being hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire.
Moscow said said Israel did not warn Russia of its operation in the area until one minute before the strike.
There are conflicting stories on whether this was the latest Israeli attack on Syria, or if it was the French military firing the missiles.
US officials reported they had knowledge of the incident, but they tried to blame it on Syrian anti-aircraft fire, which was fired at the incoming missiles. This seems to try to avoid the possibility of a US ally having shot down a Russian plane.
It doesn’t, however, make sense. Syrian anti-aircraft forces are all Russian-made, and carefully integrated with the Russian forces operating in the area. Between that and the Russian plane operating 35 km off the coast, it doesn’t seem plausible that a stray Syrian shot would’ve brought the plane down.
….Syrian state media conceded that they had no way of confirming who was attacking, though an early statement from the Syrian Army said it was an Israeli attack that came from inside Lebanese airspace. They claimed two soldiers were killed in the attack.
The Russian Defense Ministry, however, issued an alternate statement saying they’d detected the missile fire as coming from he FS Auvergne, a French naval frigate deployed off the Syrian coast.
RT reported that Putin’s first public comments on the incident, during a press conference in Moscow, indicate that he is, for the time being, assuming it was accidental:
“When people are dying – especially under such circumstances – it is always a tragedy,” President Putin said during a joint press conference with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban in Moscow on Tuesday.
Responding to a reporter’s question as to whether the incident in Latakia could be compared to the downing of the Russian Su-24 by Turkey in 2015, Putin said the two situations were “different.”
Ankara “deliberately downed” the Russian jet, he explained, while the Il-20 incident “looks like a chain of tragic circumstances, because the Israeli plane didn’t shoot down our jet.”
….Russia will investigate the incident, Putin said, adding that Moscow will boost security of Russian troops in Syria following the incident. He said that these will be “the steps that everyone will notice.”
In more positive news from Syria, Russia and Turkey have reportedly reached a deal wherein a buffer zone will be created in Idlib, pushing the terrorist “rebels” further toward the Turkish border, making the planned offensive in the town unnecessary for the moment. Antiwar.com reported:
The deal will see a 15-25 km wide buffer zone established between government and rebel territory, inside Idlib Province. The rebels are to leave this area, which will be jointly patrolled by Turkey and Russia, and are to withdraw all heavy weapons from the area.
….In the meantime, this will both mean an end to the Syrian and Russian airstrikes against the province and put rebel artillery farther away from the rest of the country, limiting civilian casualties. Whether a deal results afterwards is anyone’s guess, but there still appears to be little interest in direct talks on either side.
Reports from Democracy Now! and other media say that the leaders of North Korea and South Korea, who are currently meeting for their third summit, are hoping to issue a joint declaration that officially ends the Korean war. Washington, of course, is opposed to this move, wanting to use the official ending of the war as a potential carrot to entice North Korea to make numerous concessions first.
Within the past week, a liaison office was opened in the city of Kaesong, north of the DMZ, to facilitate further diplomatic relations between North and South as a permanent channel of communication.
Over the past several years, I’d often wondered why peace groups didn’t push a campaign to divest from the military-industrial complex and companies that profit off of war and death, similar to campaigns to divest from fossil fuels or Israeli companies that profit from the Palestinian occupation. Well, peace group Code Pink is finally pushing for such a campaign and to get the ball rolling, they’ve published a report called War Profiteers: the U.S. War Machine and the Arming of Repressive Regimes. Code Pink co-founder and co-author of the report, Medea Benjamin, was interviewed by the Real News Network about the issue:
BEN NORTON: You also point out that support for the arms industry in the U.S. is bipartisan. This is not just a Republican issue. And you mentioned in the report that a major beneficiary of President Obama’s record military spending was the company General Dynamics. The CEO of General Dynamics, Lester Crown, and his Chicago family, you write, played a critical role as career-long patrons and fundraisers for Obama’s rise to power. So can you talk a bit more specifically about this kind of revolving door between Washington and these lobby groups and the arms industry? And then also these arms industry fund many politicians from both parties.
MEDEA BENJAMIN:That’s right. It’s really the military-industrial-
congressional complex that Eisenhower talked about back in 61, but gone wild. And when you look at the fact that every single congressional district in this country has some kind of piece of a weapon being manufactured there, both as a way to push the Congressional official to say, well, this is about jobs, but also as a way to bribe those officials. About 55 percent of the lobby money coming from the weapons industry is going to Republicans; 45 percent is going to Democrats. So it is certainly bipartisan. And given the examples that you gave, we could give a lot more to show the revolving door where there are high-level people from these companies that are actually not only supporting the wars, but cheerleaders for the wars, helped manufacture the excuses to go to war, as they did in the case of Iraq.
And unfortunately, I think down the road we’ll find out examples of how they are creating the animosity with Iran right now that might take us down that road. When the CEO of Boeing was asked about how he felt with the new sanctions that the Trump administration imposed nixing a $20 billion deal that he was negotiating with Iran, he basically said, we’ll make more money from the conflict. And when you look at the stocks of these companies you see every time there is an uptick in the war there is an uptick in their profits.
Watch the full interview here