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Syria inadvertently shot down a Russian military plane after an Israeli attack on Syrian positions, killing 15 people on board, Moscow said. The chief military investigation department of the Russian Investigative Committee has launched a criminal case into the crash of Russia's Il-20 plane above the Mediterranean Sea, committee spokesperson Svetlana Petrenko told reporters.

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

The United States is closely monitoring an agreement struck Monday between Russian Federation and Turkey to establish a de-militarized zone in Syria's rebel-held Idlib province, according to the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency.

Russian Federation said it was given less than a minute's warning by Israel ahead of the strikes, which was not enough time to get the military surveillance plane out of the way.

A recovery operation in the Mediterranean Sea is underway, Konashenkov said.

Fifteen Russian servicemen aboard the plane were killed, Konashenkov said as a result of "irresponsible actions" by the Israeli Defense Force that violated the "spirit of the Israeli-Russian partnership".

Russia's military operation in Syria, which began in late 2015, has turned the tide of the conflict in favor of Moscow's ally, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, in his fight against rebels.

The Israeli military said its fighter jets were targeting a Syrian military facility involved in providing weapons for Iran's proxy Hezbollah militia, noting that it warned Russian Federation of the coming raid in line with de-confliction agreements.

Sima Shine, a former senior Mossad official and ex-deputy director-general at Israel's Strategic Affairs Ministry, told Israel's Army Radio station that the shooting down of the plane is problematic for many reasons.

The Israeli military said the Russian plane fell victim to the "extensive and inaccurate" firing of Syrian surface-to-air missile systems and that the Israeli jets - which were carrying out a raid against a Syrian government facility in another place - had already left Syrian airspace by that point.

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In a statement, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) also voiced sorrow at the deaths but blamed the Syrian government and its main regional allies Iran and Hezbollah.

He said the agreement to create a demilitarized zone in Idlib "should avert a full-scale military operation and provide reprieve for millions of civilians", a United Nations statement said.

The demilitarized zone will be monitored by Russian and Turkish forces, the countries' leaders said.

Lowcock said that any screening to distinguish civilians from fighters should be undertaken in accordance with worldwide law and with "humane treatment".

Throughout the fighting, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has maintained continuous contact with Russian Federation.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, left, welcomes Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, prior to their talks at the Bocharovy Ruchei residence, in Sochi, Russia, Monday, Sept. 17, 2018.

Netanyahu frequently travels to Russian Federation for talks with President Vladimir Putin to discuss the Syria issue. The zone, which will be patrolled by Turkish and Russian military units, will become operational from October 15.

"I think it will impose very serious restriction on Israel's freedom of activity", she said. The rebels are to leave this area, which will be jointly patrolled by Turkey and Russian Federation, and are to withdraw all heavy weapons from the area.

The Syrian opposition also welcomed the agreement between Turkey and Russian Federation. "And these will be steps that everyone will notice", Putin said.


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