UPDATE 7:30 am EST:
In response to communication from CAMERA, AP a short time ago published a correction of the false report that Russia said Israel nearly shot down a passenger jet. See below for a detailed update.
AP coverage last week of Russia's claim concerning alleged Israeli involvement in the alleged near-downing of a passenger jet over Syria egregiously errs: "Russia says Israel nearly shot down passenger plane in Syria."
The Russian army on Friday accused Israel of using a civilian plane carrying 172 passengers as a shield against Syrian anti-aircraft fire while carrying out air strikes near Damascus.
Israel's air force hit targets in the capital area at dawn on Thursday sparking a Syrian riposte, Russia's defence ministry said in a statement.
"At the time of the attack by Israeli planes... an Airbus-320 airliner was on approach to landing... in the death zone of air strikes and artillery," it said.
The "quick reaction" of air traffic controllers at Damascus airport enabled the A320 to leave the zone "which was in the firing line of Syrian anti-aircraft defence systems." (Emphasis added.)
A passenger plane carrying 172 passengers from Tehran to Damascus made an emergency landing at the Russian-controlled Hmeimim Air Base in Syria on Thursday to avoid coming under fire from Syrian air defenses, Russia said on Friday.
The Syrian forces were responding to Israeli strikes on targets in Syria, Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov was quoted as saying by Interfax and other Russian agencies.
A passenger plane with 172 people aboard made an emergency landing at a Russian military base in Syria on Thursday after drawing fire from Syrian air defenses in the aftermath of an Israeli airstrike in the area, Russian state news agencies reported on Friday.
A spokesman for the Russian Defense Ministry, Gen. Igor Konashenkov, blamed Israel for the near miss, accusing its military of habitually using civilian aircraft to “cover” its airstrikes and “block” Syrian air defenses from retaliating.