Minister: Israel might destroy Syrian S-300s, even if manned by Russians

Elias Hubbard
November 8, 2018

Israel's Environmental Protection Minister, Ze'ev Elkin, warned Russian Federation on Tuesday that its newly deployed missile defense system in Syria would be the target of airstrikes if Bashar al-Assad's army decides to make use of it against Israeli airplanes conducting operations in the war torn country.

Environmental Protection Minister Ze'ev Elkin, who is also co-chair of the Russia-Israel Intergovernmental Commission, told Russian media Monday that it was a "big mistake" for Moscow to supply its ally Syria with the S-300 missile system, because the advanced missiles, which are considered a significant threat to Israeli air power in the area, "might lead to destabilization of the situation".

The US has said it hopes Russian Federation will allow Israel to continue air strikes in Syria, Washington's envoy said Wednesday.

After Russia entered the Syrian war in 2015, backing Assad against rebels, Jerusalem and Moscow opened a direct communication line to avoid any clashes when Israeli airplanes were carrying out airstrikes.

The Syrian forces were responding to an Israeli air raid against a suspected weapons depot linked to Iran in western Syria.

An article on the Lebanese Al-Manar TV web site, however, stated that Israel has not conducted aerial strikes in Syria since the S-300 system was put in place. "We understand the existential interest and we support Israel", Jeffrey said.

Moscow's announcement of providing the Syrian army with its S-300 missile defense system came on the heels of an incident that sparked a diplomatic crisis between Russian Federation and Israel.

Moscow shipped the missiles to Syria last month, after one of its military planes was downed by a Syrian missile during an Israeli strike in the country. According to some reports, Moscow has repeatedly turned down requests by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

"Our immediate effort is to try to calm that situation down and then move on to a long-term solution", the United States envoy said with regards to the fallout between Moscow and Tel Aviv.

Unfortunately, Israel has not always met its obligations, primarily those related to the warnings by the Russian military against military operations in Syria.

"The Russians, having been there before, would not in fact withdraw, but you've got four other outside military forces - the Israelis, the Turkish, the Iranian and the American - all operating inside Syria right now".

Iran has made it clear that it would stay in Syria as long as Damascus requests.

Turkey has staged two incursions into northern Syria since 2016 with a declared aim of curbing Kurdish militant groups.

Under President Donald Trump, the United States has withdrawn from a landmark deal with Iran over its nuclear programme and reimposed crippling sanctions on the Islamic republic. "Simultaneously we stressed that the use of force was unable to resolve Israeli security concerns and could only foment regional tensions", Lavrov said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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