Russia and Israel risked a military confrontation on Tuesday after a Russian reconnaissance plane with 15 people onboard was mistakenly shot down by allied Syria forces that were targeting Israeli jets. Russia's defence ministry said that Israeli F-16 pilots were using its Ilyushin Il-20 turbo-prop aircraft signal as cover while carrying out strikes against targets in Latakia province and put it in the line of fire from Syrian missiles. The aircraft was hit 22 miles off Latakia's coast in the eastern Mediterranean on Monday evening as it was returning to a Russian airbase nearby. President Vladimir Putin was forced to step in to defuse the escalating row between the two countries, which have an uneasy alliance despite backing opposing sides in the Syrian war. Israel, which appears to have been targeting an ammunitions depot linked to the Lebanese Shia militia Hizbullah, denied it was its intention to provoke Syria into firing at the Russian plane. A IL-20PP reconnaissance aircraft of the Russian Air Force taking Credit: Alamy However, the Russian defence ministry said they were given only a one-minute warning from Israel over their deconfliction hotline, leaving it with insufficient time to reach a safe area. Israeli pilots carrying out attacks on Syrian targets "used the Russian plane as a cover, exposing it to fire from Syrian air defences," Igor Konashenkov, Russian military spokesman, said in televised remarks. Idlib offensive: Why the looming fight for Syria's last rebel stronghold could be the bloodiest yet "We consider these provocative actions by Israel as hostile. Fifteen Russian military service members died because of irresponsible actions of the Israeli military. It's absolutely contrary to spirit of Russia-Israeli partnership," he said. "We reserve right for adequate response." Mr Putin later downplayed the incident, saying the downing of the plane was the result of "a chain of tragic circumstances" and that Moscow would look into boosting security for its servicemen. The Russian president and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly spoke over the phone to clear the air. Russia military aircraft (Il-20) disappeared of the coast of Syria Israel and Russia have so far managed to carefully coordinate military action in Syria. Israel has carried out more than 200 attacks on Hizbollah and Iranian targets in Syria in the last few years in an attempt to stop its foes becoming too entrenched in the country. Moscow has never interfered. However, the latest incident marks the worst loss of Russian life to friendly fire since Moscow intervened in the conflict in 2015 and could change the way they view the Israeli raids, particularly so close to Russian bases. Improving relations between the two countries has been a source of tension between Russia and client state Syria, which is technically at war with Israel. Russian troops were recently sent to the border of the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights to act as a buffer between Syrian forces and the Jewish state. A general view shows Russian fighter jets on the tarmac at the Russian Hmeimim military base in Latakia in 2016 Credit: AFP/Getty Images The Ilyushin aircraft was reported missing shortly after Moscow announced an agreement with Turkey to set up a demilitarised zone in the last rebel stronghold of Idlib. The two countries said they would be sending military police to patrol the area and help expel jihadists. The deal temporarily delays off an all-out offensive by Syrian forces to retake the province, which the United Nations had warned would spark the worst humanitarian crisis this century. The EU hailed a political solution for Idlib, but said any deal must protect civilians and ensure humanitarian access. Experts however warned that the agreement was lacking in detail and cautioned that it does not guarantee that an offensive is no longer on the table further down the line. November 2015: Turkey shoots down Russian jet for airspace 'violation'