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A U.S. Air Force F-35A Lightning II sits on the flight line during pre-Initial Operational Testing and Evaluation on Jan. 23, 2018 (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Isaac Johnson)

BEIRUT, LEBANON (9:10 A.M.) – The Russian Ministry of Defense said on Friday that a plane carrying 172 passengers was preparing to land, when it nearly came under fire from the Syrian air defenses who was repelling an Israeli attack on Damascus that evening.

The Russian Ministry of Defense’s statement said: “After 2 A.M. on Thursday, four Israeli F-16 warplanes, without entering the Syrian airspace, launched a surprise attack with eight” air-to-surface missiles in the outskirts of Damascus.”

The ministry said that while repelling an airstrike by the Israeli Air Force, the Syrian government forces activated their air defense systems.

At the same time, as the analysis of data on the objective status control system showed, at the time of the Israeli combat aircraft attack on the outskirts of Damascus, an Airbus-320 passenger plane with 172 passengers on board was preparing to land at Damascus International Airport.

“Thanks to the operations of the Damascus airport controllers and the effective operation of the automated air traffic control system, we were able to remove the Airbus-320 passenger plane from the Syrian air defense fire zone and land safely at the nearest alternative airport – at the Russian Hmeimim air base,” the statement said.

On September 17th, 2018, the Syrian air defenses accidentally shot down a Russian military aircraft that was flying off the coast of Latakia during an attack by the Israeli Air Force.

The Russian Ministry of Defense accused the Israeli Air Force of using the Russian aircraft as cover during their confrontation with the Syrian air defenses; this led to Moscow’s decision to arm Syria with their S-300 system.