Thursday, May 16, 2013

Russia Sending Top Air-Defense System To Syria Despite Netanyahu's Warnings

This entire situation between Israel and Russia is continuing to escalate:

Undeterred by pleas and warnings from Israel, Russia made clear on Thursday that it will go ahead with its planned delivery of a highly sophisticated air-defense system to Syria’s President Bashar Assad.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly warned Russian President Vladimir Putin in an emergency face-to-face meeting on Tuesday that Moscow’s sale of the S-300 missile defense system to Assad could push the Middle East into war.

But Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, evidently unmoved by the dramatic Israeli warning, declared on Thursday that while Moscow was “not signing any new deals,” it would honor existing contracts with Syria, including for the air-defense systems. “We’ve already carried out some of the deal,” Lavrov said, “and we will carry the rest of it out in full.”

He said that if acquired by Assad, the S-300 — a state-of-the-art system that can intercept fighter jets and cruise missiles — “is likely to draw us into a response, and could send the region deteriorating into war,” the Channel 2 report said.

On Thursday night, in response to Lavrov’s statements, Israeli officials were quoted by Channel 2 as saying that Jerusalem preferred not to describe Netanyahu’s mission as a failure, but acknowledged that Israel’s “situation would have been far better” if Putin had agreed to cancel the delivery. An Israeli source was quoted as saying that Netanyahu had told Putin the S-300s represent a weapons system that “shatters [Israel's] qualitative edge,” presumably since it would greatly constrain the Israeli air force’s freedom of movement above Syria and neighboring Lebanon.

The weapon would mean a quantum leap in Syria’s air defense capability, including against neighboring countries.
Israel reportedly attacked suspected shipments of advanced Iranian weaponry — the Fateh-110 surface-to-surface missile — in Syria with back-to-back airstrikes this month. Israeli officials signaled there would be more attacks unless Syria refrains from trying to deliver such “game-changing” missiles to Hezbollah. Hezbollah said weapons shipments won’t cease.
On Wednesday, Israel reportedly warned Assad that further attacks were being considered, and that it would “bring down” his regime if he retaliated.
On Monday, Israeli Tourism Minister Uzi Landau accused Russia of destabilizing the Middle East by selling weapons to Assad’s regime. “Anyone who provides weaponry to terror organizations is siding with terror,” Landau said.

Meanwhile, the Golan Heights situation also continues to escalate:

A Syrian group took responsibility for the firing of two mortar shells at Israel Thursday morning. The rockets were fired at the Hermon ski site. No one was injured and no damage was reported. This is the first time since the beginning of the civil war in Syria that the Hermon was targeted. The upper section of the Hermon has been closed to visitors, but the lower section was still open, officials said. The IDF has increased its patrols and surveillance in the area.

There have been several recent incidents of mortar shells fired from Syria hitting different areas of the Golan. Until now, it was thought that those shells were fired by accident, but the notification by the “Shahid Brigades of the Abd al-Kajr al-Husseini Jihad Brigades” Thursday – a part of another terror group called “Free Palestine Movement” - has triggered a reevaluation of those incidents by defense officials.

The group apparently works in coordination with the Syrian government, which declared several weeks ago that it would encourage terror attacks against Israel, in the wake of the bombing of convoys that were transporting chemical weapons from Syria to Hizbullah terrorists.

In a video message, the group said that it fired the rockets on the occasion of “Nakba Day,” the date Arabs have chosen to mourn their defeat when Israel was established in 1948. “We are taking revenge for the martyrs that have killed,” the message said. “We tell the Zionists that we are opening a campaign of revenge.”

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