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September 18, 2018 1:32 pm

US: Downing of Russian Military Plane Highlights Need to End Iranian Arms Transfers Through Syria

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US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo delivers remarks at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, DC, May 21, 2018. Photo: Reuters / Jonathan Ernst.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Tuesday said that the downing of a Russian military plane off the coast of Syria in a “friendly fire” incident highlighted “the urgent need…to end Iran’s provocative transit of dangerous weapon systems through Syria, which are a threat to the region.”

In an official statement, Pompeo expressed sorrow “for the death of the aircrew members of the Russian plane that was downed by Syrian regime anti-aircraft fire.”

“Yesterday’s unfortunate incident reminds us of the need to find permanent, peaceful, and political resolutions to the many overlapping conflicts in the region and the danger of tragic miscalculation in Syria’s crowded theater of operations,” Pompeo said.

The secretary of state added: “It underlines the urgent need to resolve the Syrian conflict in accordance with United Nations Security Council Resolution 2254 [of 2015] and to end Iran’s provocative transit of dangerous weapon systems through Syria, which are a threat to the region.”

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Russian defense officials initially blamed Israel for the Monday night incident, which followed an IAF air strike on a military target in Syria — the apparent continuation of an ongoing Israeli effort to prevent Iran from cementing its presence in Syria and Lebanon.

But later on Tuesday, Russian President Vladimir Putin said the downing of the plane by a Syrian S-200 battery was the “consequence of a chain of tragic chance events.”

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