Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Israel: If Syria Uses Russian S-300 Systems We'll Retaliate, Liberman: Israel Would Destroy Syrian S-300 If It Attacked Israeli Jets

Israeli MoD: If Syria Uses Russian S-300 Systems Against Israel, We'll Retaliate

Earlier this week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov stated that Moscow had not decided yet if would supply its S-300 long-range surface-to-air missile systems to Syria.
“What’s important to us is that the defensive weapons the Russians are giving Syria won’t be used against us. If they’re used against us, we’ll act against them,” Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman told the Ynet media outlet, reflecting upon the possibility of Syria’s acquisition of S-300 missile defense systems.
The defense minister elaborated that Israel “doesn’t interfere in Syria’s internal affairs, but on the other hand we won’t allow Iran to flood [the country] with advanced weapons systems that would be aimed against Israel.”

“If anyone attacks us, we will retaliate, regardless of S-300, S-700 [sic] or any anything else’s presence there,” Lieberman said.

In an interview with Army Radio, Israeli Minister of Intelligence Yisrael Katz cast doubts on Russia’s potential supply of S-300 missile defense systems to Syria, suggesting that the move will undermine Moscow’s relations with Tel Aviv.

“I doubt that they will supply this missile defense system – at the very moment they will cross a certain line in our relations,” Army Radio cited Katz as saying.

Another senior Israeli official also expressed his concerns over the potential supply of Russian S-300 systems to Syria.

“Any type of weapon that threatens Israeli security is always a matter of concern,” Deputy Director General and Director of the Eurasia Department of the Foreign Ministry Alexander Ben-Zvi said. 

At the same time, Ben-Zvi did not clarify if Tel Aviv would raise the issue of S-300 supplies during talks with Russian officials. He did, however, note that “matters concerning the Syrian conflict are constantly being discussed during the meetings between Israeli politicians and diplomats in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Russian Security Council.”

The statements come just a day after the IDF launched an attack on Syrian artillery after a mortar shell fell next to a security fence in the northern Golan Heights, a disputed area, which has been a focal point in relations between Tel Aviv and Damascus since the 1967 Six-Day War.

Liberman: Israel would destroy Syrian S-300 if it attacked our jets

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Tuesday downplayed Israeli concerns over Russia’s purported plans to outfit the Syrian military with its powerful S-300 air defense system, but stressed that Israel would retaliate if such a battery were used against its aircraft.
“What’s important is that defense systems being supplied by Russia to Syria aren’t used against us,” Liberman said during a live interview with the Ynet news site.
“One thing needs to be clear: If someone shoots at our planes, we will destroy them. It doesn’t matter if it’s an S-300 or an S-700,” he said.

On Monday, the Russian daily Kommersant reported that Moscow was getting closer to delivering the S-300 missile defense system to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, despite Israel’s efforts to prevent it.
The Russian Foreign Ministry later denied parts of the article, saying that a decision about the transfer of the S-300 had yet to be made.
Liberman said he had seen the reports, but that “they don’t have a grip on reality.”

The defense minister reiterated Israel’s stated policy as it relates to Syria, namely that Israel will not get involved in the country’s civil war, but will take military action to prevent advanced weaponry from reaching the Hezbollah terrorist group and to halt Iranian entrenchment in Syria.

Israel’s focus is on ensuring that “Iran does not bring in a flood of advanced weapons systems aimed at Israel,” he said.
Liberman denied that Israel’s relationship with Russia was in peril following an airstrike against Iranian facilities on a Syrian air base earlier this month, which Moscow claimed Israel had conducted. Israeli officials refuse to comment on the strike.
Israel’s former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, who currently heads the influential Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv, said he assumed the air force would work quickly to destroy the S-300, if it were indeed handed over to Syria.

“If I know the air force well, we have already made proper plans to deal with this threat. After you remove the threat, which is basically what will be done, we’re back to square one,” Yadlin told Bloomberg news last week.
Russian military sources told Kommersant that if Israel tried to destroy the anti-aircraft batteries, it would be “catastrophic for all sides.”

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