Syria says new air defences will make Israel think twice

Geraldine Edwards
September 28, 2018

Russia announced on Monday that it will supply the Syrian government with modern S-300 missile defence systems following last week's downing of a Russian plane by Syria, a friendly fire incident that send regional tensions over the war-torn country soaring.

Russia's defense ministry says it has evidence that the IDF report on the fatal Russian plane crash "distorts" the facts surrounding the incident and that Israel is to blame.

The most recent incident was the worst case of friendly fire between Russian Federation and Syria. "Israel has been preparing for the threat for 20 years already and will know how to cope".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told reporters that his nation will "continue to act against the entrenchment of the Iranian military in Syria" despite Russia's decision to supply Syria with the S-300 system.

In a statement on Sunday evening, the Israel Defense Forces said that figures in the Russian military had been clear "that the deconfliction mechanism worked and did so in a timely manner".

Russian Federation launched its campaign in Syria to support President Al Assad in 2015, and though the involvement turned the tide of war in favour of Syrian government forces, Moscow has since tried to play a careful balancing act, maintaining good ties both with Iran and Israel.

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Earlier this month, Israel admitted it launched 200 strikes inside Syria since a year ago.

For its part, Israel is wary of Iran's growing influence in Syria, which is bringing its archenemy closer to its borders.

Russian Federation has largely turned a blind eye to the Israeli attacks, and analysts believe the latest dispute between the two countries won't affect their relationship.

The transfer of the S-300 to Syria is a "long-running saga", according to Aron Lund, a fellow with The Century Foundation think-tank.

Erdogan said both Turkey and Russian Federation would carry out coordinated military patrols on the borders of the buffer zone in a bid to detect and prevent "provocation by third parties and violations of the agreement".

Yadlin also revealed that the four IAF F-16's were already back in Israeli airspace when the Syrian army began to launch S-200 missiles "randomly" as the IDF called it.

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"Let the Israelis try, we will defend ourselves as we always do", the state SANA news agency quoted Meqdad as saying.

White House National Security Adviser John Bolton said Monday that he hopes Russian Federation will reconsider supplying missiles to Syria, noting that it is a would be a "major mistake" and "significant escalation".

"This is still a promise ... so we're not sure if Moscow is going to go through with it", Kouch told Al Jazeera. Syria wanted to buy such missiles from Russian Federation back in 2009.

Peskov said the new measures were only to boost the security of its troops in Syria. The Iranians were willing to pay, but Netanyahu and former US President Barack Obama's pressure on Putin stopped the deal in 2013.

Some of the last string of attacks have targeted air bases and facilities in the Syrian capital, Damascus, where Assad's government sits.

After the meeting, the cabinet reportedly instructed the Israeli army to continue conducting operations in Syria.

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In the immediate aftermath of the incident, President Vladimir Putin appeared to take a softer line with Israel than the military, noting that it was Syrian air defenses that shot down the plane.

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