The A320 diverted safely to Russia’s nearby Khmeimim military air base.
An Airbus A320 airliner carrying 172 passengers was nearly shot down on its approach to the Syrian capital, Damascus, shortly after 2 a.m. on Feb. 6, 2020 after Syria fired anti-aircraft missiles in response to an Israeli Air Force (IAF) strike, according to a Russian Air Force spokesman, RIA Novosti reported Friday.
The plane diverted safely to Russia’s nearby Khmeimim military air base, he said.
Syrian state media said that on Thursday, IAF F-16s launched airstrikes at targets in southern Syria. A claim confirmed by Russian Air Force spokesman Igor Konashenkov who pointed out that the incident followed airstrikes launched by four Israeli F-16 fighter jets.
IAF fighter jets fired eight missiles at targets near Damascus early Thursday and Syria forces fired anti-aircraft missile defense systems, Konashenkov said. He added the plane that narrowly avoided being hit was traveling from Tehran to Damascus.
The Washington Post reported that the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, a U.K.-based monitoring group, said airstrikes Thursday hit the positions of Iran-backed militia, killing 23 people, including Syrian and Iranian fighters.
In recent weeks Syrian forces backed by Russian airstrikes and Iran-backed fighters have mounted attacks in the northwest of the country in a bid to crush the last stronghold of opposition to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
The incident comes a month after a SA-15 surface-to-air missile (SAM) fired by Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps shot down a Boeing 737-800 airliner belonging to Ukraine International Airlines killing all 176 people aboard.
Photo credit: Flightradar / Oleksiy Naumov and Master Sergeant Kevin J. Gruenwald / U.S. Air Force