Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman on Thursday rejected reported demands by Moscow that Israel give the Russian military additional warning before carrying out airstrikes in Syria.
“We will not accept any restrictions on our freedom of operation, and when it comes to national security, we will take action,” Liberman told Army Radio in an interview.
He indicated that Israel has carried out more airstrikes in Syria than have been attributed to it by foreign media.
“Just because the media did not report on Syria strikes does not mean there were none,” Liberman said. “I don’t think it’s our duty to report what the army must do. An army needs to act.”
On Wednesday, Hadashot news reported that Russia was seeking to reset the terms of Israeli military operations in Syria and overhaul the existing Jerusalem-Moscow coordination system.
Russia is insisting it receive further advance warning of Israeli strikes, the TV network said, though the report did not say how much. Israel usually informs Russia minutes before an airstrike.
Such a demand would likely limit Israel’s freedom of maneuver in Syria, with the report noting it could endanger Israeli aircraft and allow Iranian operatives more time to hide materiel being targeted.
A senior diplomatic source quoted in the report said the demand was unacceptable operationally and that Israel must not acquiesce to it.
The reported Russian demand comes a month after Moscow announced it would supply Syria with the S-300 air defense system, after one of its military planes was downed by a Syrian missile during an Israeli strike in the country.
Moscow has blamed Israel for the incident, in which 15 Russian servicemen were killed, saying an Israeli jet had used the Russian plane as cover — a charge denied by Israel.
On Wednesday, a satellite imaging company published photos it said show four S-300 batteries deployed at a newly constructed site near the northwestern Syrian city of Masyaf, where Israel has reportedly carried out raids on targets allegedly tied to Syria’s chemical weapons program.