Russia to give S-300 air-defense system to Syria

By Ali Cura

MOSCOW (AA) – Russia said on Monday it will give a S-300 anti-aircraft missile system to the Syrian regime forces within two weeks.

Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in a statement that the system will "significantly" strengthen the combat capabilities of Assad regime's air defense.

The move came after Russia blamed Israel for the downing of its military aircraft a week ago.

This system has the ability to hit a target 250 kilometers away and destroy several targets simultaneously, he added.

Blaming Israel for the downing of its military aircraft, Shoigu noted that the incident forced Moscow to take necessary security measures.

Separately answering questions of reporters over whether the move will affect relations with Israel, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said they were only protecting their own army and were not targeting a third country.

Last Tuesday, Israeli F-16s entered Syrian airspace to strike Syrian military targets in the northwestern Latakia province.

When Syria’s Russian-built S-200 air-defense system responded to the airspace breach, a Russian Il-20 military plane was struck by a missile, destroying the aircraft and killing all 15 servicemen on board.

Moscow accused Israel of using the Russian aircraft as a shield against the surface-to-air-attacks.

Russia backs Syrian regime forces while Israel conducts airstrikes against alleged Iran-backed forces operating along its border.

The two militaries cooperate through a “deconfliction line” to prevent incidents.