Syria accidentally fired a missile at a civilian jet carrying 172 passengers and forced it to divert into a Russian airport
- Syrian troops nearly shot down an airliner attempting to land in Damascus in the confusing aftermath of Israeli airstrikes early Thursday morning.
- A plane operated by Syrian airline Cham Wings was flying from Iraq to the Syrian capital Thursday when it was forced to divert to a Russian military airbase near Latakia, around 215 miles (346 kilometres) from Damascus.
- Syrian anti-aircraft missiles had been fired at the plane, with forces on high alert after Israeli airstrikes in Syria on Thursday.
- The plane, which was carrying 172 passengers, according to The Guardian, landed safely and no one was hurt.
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Syrian troops nearly shot down an airliner attempting to land in Damascus in the confusing aftermath of Israeli airstrikes early Thursday morning.
Russian officials Friday confirmed a Cham Wings Airbus A320 flying from Najaf, Iraq to Damascus diverted its path to land at a Russian military airbase near Latakia, Syria, to avoid anti-aircraft missiles fired by Syria's air defenses.
Air defenses were on high alert after Israeli fighter jets on Thursday fired missiles into Damascus.
The plane, which was carrying 172 passengers, according to The Guardian, landed safely and no one was hurt.
The incident renewed fears that a broader conflict in the region could jeopardise the safety of air travel in an increasingly crowded and militarised area where such incidents grow increasingly commonplace.
Last month, Iranian air defense units, fearing a US air strike on Iran, accidentally destroyed a Ukrainian airliner killing 176 people. In 2018, Syrian air defenses destroyed a Russian surveillance plane off the coast of Syria, also in a panicked response to Israeli air strikes on targets in Syria.
Russia coordinates its Syria operations from Hmeimim Air Base, a major facility on the Mediterranean coast, where the Cham Wings flight took refuge from the missile fire, according to Reuters, which cited Russia's Interfax news service quoting Russian officials.
Israel has conducted hundreds of air strikes on targets in Syria usually linked to Iranian or Hezbollah operations, as both have deployed sizable forces to Syria in support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad's efforts to quell a nearly decade long rebellion against his rule.
In the aftermath of the 2018 incident, Russian military officials said that Russian advisors would take control of the longest range and most accurate missile systems, the S-300, they've provided to the Syrian government. It is unclear whose troops were operating the systems that fired over Damascus Thursday morning.
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