Russia has denied media reports Monday morning which said that Israeli fighter jets were intercepted and driven off by Russian warplanes over Lebanon.
The incident involved 2 Israeli F-16s that were challenged by Russian Sukhoi Su-34 jets over Tripoli and forced away, according to Hadashot, citing Lebanese and Russian media outlets.
But on Monday night, the Russian news agency Tass quoted the defense ministry as dismissing the story as untrue.
“Reports circulated by an Israeli news website about alleged ‘interception’ of two Israeli F-16 planes by Russian Su-34’s in the airspace over Lebanon are dilettantish nonsense,” the ministry said.
“The Su-34 multirole bombers of the Russian taskforce in Syria are not used to intercept aerial targets and perform no missions in Lebanon’s airspace,” the ministry said.
Israeli officials have made no comment.
Russia and Israel have been coordinating military activities in the region to avert such confrontations, and Monday’s incident was a rare exception to the thus-far successful bilateral arrangements.
Israeli officials have stressed that this does not mean they are cooperating in operations with the Russians, and the IDF does not clear any air strikes with them.
“Cooperating is not the right term. We do not coordinate [with Russia]. It’s about deconfliction and security measures, so they don’t harm us and we don’t harm them,” a senior officer said recently, The Times of Israel reported.
Russian forces stationed in Syria reportedly scrambled the jets in an attempt to block IAF activity in the area.
There was no photographic evidence of Monday’s incident.