The Israeli Air Force’s tactic of hiding behind unarmed and civilian aircraft to try to prevent the Syrian military from staging an effective air defence has become all too common, Lieut. Gen. Valery Gorbenko, former commander of the Russian Air Force’s 4th Air and Air Defence Army, has said.
Earlier, in a statement regarding the Thursday morning missile strikes targeting military facilities in Damascus and Syria’s southwest, Russian Defence Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov provided new details about the attacks, confirming that they were carried out by four Israeli Air Force F-16s.
According to Konashenkov, at the time of the Israeli assault, a Cham Wings Airbus A320 with 172 passengers on board was on approach to land at the Damascus International Airport, and had to be diverted to prevent a possible accidental shootdown by Syrian air defences.
Konashenkov stressed that only the quick-thinking of air traffic controllers and the effective functioning of Syria’s automated air traffic control system ensured that the civilian aircraft was able to safely turn around and land at the nearest standby airport, which happened to be the Hmeymim Airbase in Latakia.