Russia to send S-300 missile defence systems to Syria

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    Moscow says the S-300 air defence system will be delivered to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks [File: AP]

    In a televised statement on Monday, Shoigu said the decision to “transfer the modern S-300 air defence system to the Syrian armed forces within two weeks” was taken by President Vladimir Putin and is one of the “response measures”.

    The Kremlin said the installation of S-300 was aimed at increasing safety of Russian military and “not directed at any third country”.

    Moscow has blamed Israel for the accidental shooting down of the aircraft with 15 people onboard. Israeli military, however, said that Syria’s indiscriminate air defence fire was the cause of plane crash.

    Russia will also block navigations and communications of warplanes operating in eastern Mediterranean, according to the minister.

    Fifteen servicemen on board were killed by Syrian friendly fire in the incident which Moscow blamed on the Israeli air force.

    The Russian military said the Il-20 electronic intelligence plane was hit 35km off Syria’s Mediterranean coast as it returned to its home base nearby.

    Russian defence officials described manoeuvres by Israeli fighter jets during the incident as “hostile” and said it had a right to retaliate.

    Al Jazeera’s Rory Challands, reporting from Moscow, said that the move represented a change of positions for Russia.

    “The strange thing is that the Kremlin had seemed pretty chill about the incident, not wanting to upset Russia-Israel relations over it. But the MoD was very angry, and seems to have either persuaded Putin to take the gloves off, or is driving this one itself,” he said.

    Friendly fire

    Monday’s incident highlighted the dangers posed by the conflicting interests of various powers in the crowded skies over war-torn Syria and threatened to damage relations between Russia and Israel. 

    The incident was also the worst case of friendly fire between Russia and Syria since Moscow’s military intervention in the country in support of President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in September 2015.

    Since intervening in Syria’s war, Russia has generally turned a blind eye to Israeli attacks inside the country. 

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    Israel has carried out about 200 air raids in the last two years, according to Israeli officials.

    For several years, Israel and Russia have maintained a special hotline to prevent their air forces from clashing in the skies over Syria. Israeli military officials have previously praised its effectiveness.

    A dispute between Israel and Russia could restrict Israel’s ability to mount air raids inside Syria on what it considers the greatest threat to its security from the Syria conflict: the build-up of Iranian forces or Iranian-backed Hezbollah fighters.

    View the original article: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2018/09/russia-send-300-missile-defence-systems-syria-180924093518745.html

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and news agencies

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