A Russian IL-20 maritime patrol aircraft with 15 people onboard has been shot down by Syrian anti-aircraft defences targeting Israeli aircraft over the Mediterranean. Israeli F-16s were attacking targets in Latakia province
and the Russian defence ministry has claimed the fighter aircraft were using the IL-20 as cover against Syrian missiles. The ministry blamed Israel for "irresponsible actions", saying that the incident was a "deliberate provocation".
In a way, the shootdown sums up the chaotic nature of the air war over Syria. A Turkish F-4 was one of the first aircraft shot down during the conflict and since then, it is estimated that over 100 Syrian airforce aircraft have also been destroyed. The bulk of the Syrian aircraft were shot down by various rebel groups, though some are known to have been lost to Israeli air defences, Turkish F-16s and in one incident last year, a U.S. Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet
In addition to the shootdown of the IL-20, Russia has lost an estimated 17 aircraft in total, both in combat and due to accidents. The most controversial loss occurred in November 2015 when a Russian SU-24 was shot down by Turkish F-16s over Syria's northern border, killing one of the pilots. In February of this year, an Israeli F-16 was damaged by Syrian air defences before crashing in northern Israel.
The following infographic shows just how chaotic and dangerous Syria's skies have become by providing an overview of estimated aircraft losses. The U.S. incidents on the infographic take into account two UAV crashes, the fatal crash of an F-16 after a technical issue in November 2014 as well as the crash of a V-22 Osprey in September 2017 which injured two crew members.