Bashar Al-Assad
Bashar Al-Assad Reuters

Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad on Wednesday sent a letter to his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in which he blamed Israel for the downing of a Russian plane which was accidentally hit by Syrian anti-aircraft fire during an Israeli missile strike.

"This unfortunate incident was the result of Israeli arrogance and depravity," wrote Assad, offering his condolences for the death of 15 Russian crew members killed in the incident over Syria on Monday.

"We are determined that such tragic events will sway neither you nor us from continuing the fight against terrorism," he continued in the letter published by the official Sana agency and quoted by AFP.

The Russian plane was downed by Syria's Russian-made S-200 air defense system and all aboard were killed.

The Russian military has accused Israeli pilots of using the Russian plane as a cover, "exposing it to fire from Syrian air defenses".

The Russian Defense Ministry initially blamed Israel for the downing of the plane.

The IDF denied the Russian claim, stating that Israeli aircraft had already returned to Israel airspace when the Russian plane was shot down.

Later, Putin said that he backed the Russian Defense Ministry statement accusing Israel of downing the reconnaissance plane, but added that the incident appeared to be an accident.

A delegation of senior Israeli security officials is scheduled to fly to Russia early Thursday morning in an attempt to resolve an ongoing dispute with the Kremlin regarding the downing of the plane.

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