Russian Aircraft Downed Over Syria: A USS Liberty Moment or an MH17 Moment?

The USS Liberty

During the Arab-Israeli War of 1967, an American technical research ship called the USS Liberty was attacked in an simultaneous aerial and torpedo assault by Israeli warplanes and motor torpedo boats. In the attack which lasted nearly an hour and a half, 34 Americans were killed and 171 were wounded, many of them severely.

Officially, both the US and Israel called the attack on the USS Liberty an incident of tragic friendly fire deriving from the Israelis falsely identifying the American fagged ship as Egyptian. While Israel paid the US compensation and the issue was allowed to rapidly die down by a complacent US media, since 1967 many books and articles have been written suggesting that the attack on the USS Liberty was a deliberate attack on Israel’s part while others have asserted that Israel acted with the approval of US President Lyndon Johnson in an attempt to stage a false flag attack wherein Egypt would have been incorrectly blamed for such an attack. According to this theory, the fact that there were survivors meant that the false flag narrative needed to be called off and substituted with the friendly fire/mistaken identity narrative.

Survivors of the attack have stated that throughout the day of the attack, Israeli planes were flying so low that the crew of the USS Liberty were in fact waving to the Israeli airmen. The claim that Israel was aware that the Liberty was an American ship was explored in a book from 2017 co-authored by survivors of the attack called Remember the Liberty!: Almost Sunk by Treason on the High Seas. In the book, the authors examine a CIA document which quotes a conversation between then-Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Dayan and a top Israeli general. During the conversation Dayan ordered the sinking of the Liberty, something the general he was speaking to called “pure murder”.

The authors also explored statements from Dwight Porter, a former US Ambassador to Lebanon who recounted the following conversation between an Israeli pilot and the Israel Air Force war room that was intercepted by US intelligence:

Israeli pilot to IDF war room: This is an American ship. Do you still want us to attack?

IDF war room to Israeli pilot: Yes, follow orders.

Israeli pilot to IDF war room: But sir, it’s an American ship – I can see the flag!

IDF war room to Israeli pilot: Never mind; hit it.

A forthcoming book by Dr. Joan Mellen further corroborates allegations that the attack on the Liberty was deliberate. While Washington and Tel Aviv continue to stand by their original public statements on the matter, a preponderance of evidence from recent years has led more and more people to include that the attack on the USS Liberty was almost certainly deliberate in nature.


In 2014, Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 (MH17) was shot down over Donetsk during the first year of the conflict between the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Kiev regime. While it was totally reckless for regime authorities to route a commercial airliner over a war zone in which anti-aircraft weapons were present, both Kiev and the majority of European states blamed Russia for allegedly arming Donetsk fighters who allegedly shot at the jet.

Recent evidence however has shown that the serial number on the Buk missile used in the downing of MH17 belonged to the regime. Furthermore, while the Donetsk fighters had no motive to down a low flying non-military jet, regime fighters clearly did. This is the case because MH17 appeared to be painted in a similar manner to that of the official Russian Presidential jet. The lack of discipline and excessive drug and alcohol use among regime soldiers helps one to understand a motive of severe criminality where in a moment of extreme wickedness, regime fighters thought they were going to assassinate the Russian head of state by downing his jet.

In the case of MH17, it would appear that a matter of mistaken identity led to the mass slaughter of civilians when the intent was to assassinate a head of state. As a result, the Kiev regime and its allies adopted an ex post facto false flag narrative blaming Russia for a “mistake” that was in fact committed by the regime.

Downing of Ilyushin Il-20 over Syria 

On the 18th of September, a Russian Ilyushin Il-20 surveillance plane was downed off the cost of the Syrian city of Latakia when the Syrian Arab Army fired a Soviet made S-200 missile defence system at the aircraft. All fifteen men on bored are thought to have died instantaneously.

The friendly fire incident occurred as Syrian missile defence systems were engaging attacking Israeli F-16s in the midst of one of their increasingly frequent attacks on Syria. While Israel has blamed Syria for inaccurately shooting a barrage of missiles at the sky after the F-16s had already left Israeli airspace, Russia has stated that the Israeli jets were using the Il-20 as “cover” and as a result Tel Aviv is being held responsible for the incident. Israel’s rare expressions of sympathy to a foreign country’s tragedy (in this case Russia) and willingness to cooperate with Russia in investigating the tragedy can further be seen as at least a partial de-facto admission of guilt.

Be that as it may, Syria and its other partners still have many questions to answer as was outlined in a recent piece by geopolitical export Andrew Korybko.

Il-20: Russia’s USS Liberty or Russia’s MH17? 

By most contemporary accounts, the attack on the USS Liberty was a deliberate incident of friendly fire (hostility between allies) that was initially intended to be used in a false flag incident to frame Egypt for the atrocity. However, the number of survivors made such an attempt impossible. By contrast, MH17 was an act of wanton aggression against a self-professed enemy by a regime whose soldiers are irresponsible enough to think they could get away with the assassination of a foreign head of state without triggering a major regional if not world war.

Thus far, the downing of the Il-20 looks to be a combination of each aforementioned incident. As with the USS Liberty, Israel appears to have attempted to provoke a serious situation in the Mediterranean through sheer recklessness, in this case giving Russia a much too short one minute warning before the F-16 attack on Syria and secondly by taking cover under the Russian aircraft as the Russian Defence Ministry stated. In so far as Syria ultimately downed the Il-20 one could compare the event to the downing of MH17. In the case of MH17, Kiev regime fighters thought they were downing a Russian Presidential aircraft while in Syria’s case, the person operating the S-200 system likely thought that he was firing at an enemy Israeli aircraft.

But while the scenario above conform to what both Russia and Israel have said of the incident thus far, there is an alternative comparison to be made. It is not beyond the realm of the possible that the operators of the Syrian S-200s deliberately shot at what they knew was a Russian aircraft in order to then blame the incident on Israel. Indeed, even if such a devious scenario was not intended, the short term result has in fact been that Russia has assigned blame to Israel rather than Syria when objectively it would appear that both sides share some of the proximate blame.


This is why an investigation conducted from the Syrian side (with Russian supervision) is as important as the cooperative investigatory efforts between Moscow and Tel Aviv. Until the events transpiring in Syria in respect of the operation of the S-200 are fully known, one will not be able to accurately determine whether the downing of the Il-20 was a case of mistaken identity or a USS Liberty style deliberate attempt to provoke a false flag narrative.

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