Russia will supply the Syrian regime with new air defense systems in the near future, the RIA news agency reported Wednesday, citing the Russian Defense Ministry.
The report did not specify what type of systems Moscow will give its Damascus ally.
On Monday, the Russian daily Kommersant reported that Moscow was getting closer to delivering its S-300 missile defense system to Syrian dictator Bashar Assad, despite Israel’s efforts to prevent it. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman responded by saying that if the powerful S-300 was used against Israeli jets, the system would be destroyed.
Defense analysts have questioned whether an S-300 system in Syrian hands could threaten Israel’s air power in the region and prevent it from being able to conduct strikes against targets in Syria.
Russian military sources told Kommersant that if Israel tried to destroy the anti-aircraft batteries, it would be “catastrophic for all sides.”
Moscow first announced that it was considering reversing its longtime policy against supplying the S-300 system to the regime following a series of airstrikes against Syrian targets by the United States, United Kingdom and France earlier this month in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack by Assad.
According to Kommersant’s report, Russia will not be selling Assad the S-300 system, but rather providing it at no cost as part of a military aid package in order to hasten the delivery.
In what many saw as a direct reaction to the looming proliferation of the S-300 and other missile defense systems throughout the Middle East — but especially in Iran — Israel has purchased a fleet of F-35 stealth fighter jets from the American Lockheed-Martin defense contractor.
The state-of-the-art planes are meant to offer a solution to the challenges posed by the S-300, whose radar systems can detect aircraft from some 300 kilometers (186 miles) away.
Officials said to fear the planes are transporting weapons which could be used to attack Israel
US and Israeli intelligence officials are concerned over a number of cargo flights that have flown from Iran to Syria in recent weeks, CNN reportedon Wednesday.
A US administration official confirmed to the network that the US and Israel fear the planes are being used to transport weapons for troops loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad or Iranian forces operating in the country, which could then be used to attack Israel.
Although there have been shipments from Iran to Syria in the past, these recent flights were said to have been noted as they arrived in the wake of the April 13 US-led strikes on Syrian military targets in response to an alleged chemical gas attack on the town of Douma that killed dozens.
A Twitter account tracking air traffic around the world recently published details of at least two Syrian Air Force IL-76 cargo flights between Iran and Syria, and the US official told CNN that other flights including at least one Iranian cargo plane have also been monitored by intelligence services.
The news network also reported concerns that the transports were replenishing anti-aircraft missiles depleted when Syria targeted Israeli jets carrying out a raid in February.
Israel carried out strikes on targets in Syria after an explosives-laden drone was flown into Israeli airspace on February 10. The Israeli military said at the time that between one-third and one-half of Syria’s air defenses were destroyed during the strikes.
During a Syrian counterattack against the Israeli jets, one F-16 was hit by anti-aircraft fire and crashed in a field in northern Israel after the pilot and navigator ejected from it.
Western officials have accused Iran of using seemingly civilian airlines as fronts for the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps to conduct military transport missions to Syria from Tehran’s Mehrabad Airport.
Pouya Airlines, for instance, was subjected to US sanctions in 2014 for “transporting illicit cargo, including weapons, to Iran’s clients in the Levant,” according to the US Treasury Department.
Over time, the IRGC began setting up its own facilities on Syrian military bases and air fields.
Reported Iranian attempts to bring advanced weaponry into Syria come at a time of unprecedented tension between Jerusalem and Tehran, including mutual threats of attack. Most recently, Iran has vowed revenge over an airstrike on the T-4 airbase in Syria in April that was said to have killed several Iranian military figures and has widely been blamed on Israel, which has not confirmed it was behind it
Post a Comment