Russia’s Defense Ministry has cautioned the US-led coalition of carrying out airstrikes on Syrian army positions, adding in Syria there are numerous S-300 and S-400 air defense systems up and running.
Russia currently has S-400 and S-300 air-defense systems deployed to protect its troops stationed at the Tartus naval supply base and the Khmeimim airbase. The radius of the weapons reach may be “a surprise” to all unidentified flying objects, Russian Defense Ministry spokesperson General Igor Konashenkov said.
According to the Russian Defense Ministry, any airstrike or missile hitting targets in territory controlled by the Syrian government would put Russian personnel in danger.
The defense official said that members of the Russian Reconciliation Center in Syria are working “on the ground” delivering aid and communicating with a large number of communities in Syria.
“Therefore, any missile or air strikes on the territory controlled by the Syrian government will create a clear threat to Russian servicemen.”
“Russian air defense system crews are unlikely to have time to determine in a ‘straight line’ the exact flight paths of missiles and then who the warheads belong to. And all the illusions of amateurs about the existence of ‘invisible’ jets will face a disappointing reality,” Konashenkov added.
The Russian Defense Ministry’s statement came in response to what it called “leaks” in the Western media alleging that Washington is considering launching airstrikes against Syrian government forces.
“Of particular concern is information that the initiators of such provocations are representatives of the CIA and the Pentagon, who in September reported to the [US] President on the alleged controllability of ‘opposition’ fighters, but today are lobbying for ‘kinetic’ scenarios in Syria,” he said.
He cautioned Washington to conduct a “thorough calculation of the possible consequences of such plans.”
US-led coalition jets bombed positions of the Syrian government forces on September 17, resulting in the deaths of 83 servicemen. Washington said the airstrike was a mistake, however Damascus claimed the incident was a “blatant aggression.”
The Russian military on Thursday strongly warned the United States against striking the Syrian army, noting that its air defense weapons in Syria stand ready to fend off any attack.
The statement underlined high tensions between Moscow and Washington after the collapse of a U.S.-Russia-brokered Syria truce and the Syrian army's offensive on Aleppo backed by Russian warplanes.
Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Maj. Gen. Igor Konashenkov said any U.S. strikes on areas controlled by Syrian President Bashar Assad's government could jeopardize the lives of Russian servicemen.
In Washington, State Department spokesman John Kirby said "We're looking at the full range of options here and those comments notwithstanding, we still have a responsibility as a government to consider all those options."
Konashenkov warned, however, that the Russian military won't have time to use the hotline if it sees missiles on their way to targets in Syria.
"It must be understood that Russian air defense missile crews will unlikely have time to clarify via the hotline the exact flight program of the missiles or the ownership of their carriers," he added.
In an apparent hint at the U.S. stealth aircraft, he added that any "dilettante illusions about stealth planes could collide with disappointing realities."
The deployment has added more punch to the Russian military force in Syria, which already includes long-range S-400 missile defense systems and an array of other surface-to-air missiles at the Hemeimeem air base in Syria's coastal province of Latakia.
The photo coincides with other recent threats by Russian officials that Moscow would respond militarily to any perceived interference as the country boosts its military presence in Syria.
However, Defense Department spokesman Peter Cook noted in his Tuesday briefing that neither ISIS nor Nusra have air forces that would warrant using a defensive missile system.