A Russian civilian plane with 217 passengers and 7 crew aboard crashed, and is believed shot down by a missile, over Sinai early Saturday morning, Oct. 31, shortly after taking off from the Sinai resort town of Sharm el-Sheikh for St. Petersburg.
Initial reporting on the fate of the plane was confused and is still not completely clear.
It was first reported to be missing after contact was lost with Egyptian air control; it was then said to be safely on its way to Russia over Turkey. Russian aviation sources then reported the A321 to be missing over Cypriot air space. Finally, the Egyptian prime minister’s office Egyptian prime minister’s office confirmed that a Russian passenger plane had crashed n central Sinai and a cabinet level crisis committee had been formed to deal with the crash.
The airliner owned by the small airline Kogalymavia disappeared from screen 23 minutes after takeoff from Sharm el-Sheikh. There were many families with children aboard.
debkafile reports: The first claim by Russian aviation sources that the plane had gone missing over Cyprus was an attempt to draw attention from the likelihood that it was shot down over Sinai, where the former Ansar al-Miqdas, which has renamed itself ISIS-Sinai, maintains its main strongholds.
Moscow is reluctant to admit that the Islamic State may have chosen to retaliate for the buildup of Russian forces in Syria and Russia air strikes on its bases in Syria.
If the airline was indeed shot down by the Sinai branch of the Islamic State, the Russians are finding that ISIS is fully capable of striking at the least expected place and most vulnerable spot of its enemy.
On board the plane were 17 children, along with 200 adults and seven crew, said aviation authorities. There are no signs of survivors.
Confirming the deliberate attempt at confusion, Moscow and Cairo both stated that the plane had disappeared from the radar 23 minutes after takeoff from Sharm El-Sheikh.
This is refuted by the discovery of the wreckage, a few minutes ago, completely gutted and destroyed, and a short distance away near Bir Al-Hassaneh, in the central Sinai Jabal al-Halal mountain range, where Ansar Beit al-Miqdas terrorists are hold up and which is almost inaccessible to rescue teams.
It is to this stronghold that debkafile reported in recent months that ISIS sent officers, former senior members of Saddam Hussein’s army, to set up a major campaign against the Egyptian army, along with advanced anti-air missile systems smuggled into Sinai and the Gaza Strip from Libya for this campaign.
Israel air force jets no longer carry out low flights in the areas within range of the Islamic groups armed with these missiles.