Israel will continue strikes in Syria despite S-300 missile system delivery: Minister
Israeli minister for military affairs Avigdor Lieberman has expressed Tel Aviv’s discontent over Russia’s delivery of an S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria, stressing the move will not deter the Israeli regime from military operations in the war-ravaged Arab country.
“I cannot say that we are pleased with the deployment of the S-300. However, this is the very topic where we have no way out. There is no way not to make decisions,” he said.
Lieberman further stated that it was important for Moscow and Tel Aviv to restore normal ties despite their disagreements over the recent downing of a Russian Il-20 reconnaissance aircraft off the coast of Syria’s western province of Latakia.
“I think the most important thing for us today is…to return the working relationship to normal. It is today the most important task — to return to normal operation, coordination, to more actively use the “hot line” to prevent conflict situations. We need to work,” he commented.
The Israeli minister for military affairs asserted that the Tel Aviv regime “has conducted more than 200 strikes against designated targets in Syria over the past two years, and not a single Russian soldier received a single scratch.”
“At the time when the Syrian air defenses opened fire, Israeli planes were already in our airspace,” Lieberman alleged.
Speaking at a Russian Security Council meeting chaired by President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said his country had completed the delivery of an S-300 missile system to Syria, irrespective of Israeli authorities’ strong opposition that it will pose a serious “challenge” to the Tel Aviv regime.
“We have embarked on a number of activities aimed at strengthening the air defense systems of the Syrian Arab Republic in order to ensure better protection for our military personnel. We have completed the delivery of S-300 complexes. This includes 49 pieces of equipment: illuminating laser radiolocators, defense priority systems, control vehicles and four missile launchers. The work was completed a day ago. We have delivered the whole system to Syria,” Shoigu said.
The Russian defense minister added that it will take three months to train Syrian specialists to use the S-300 air defense missile system.
Last month, Moscow vowed to bolster Syria’s air defense capabilities by deploying the modern S-300 surface-to-air missile system to the Arab country.
The announcement came in the wake of the accidental downing of a Russian aircraft with 15 servicemen on board by Syria’s S-200 air defense systems which were at the time responding to a wave of Israeli strikes on state institutions in Latakia.
Moscow held Israel responsible for the September 17 incident, saying the regime’s pilots had intentionally used the Russian plane as cover to conduct air raids, effectively putting it in the cross hairs of the Syrian air defenses.
On Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov confirmed that Russia had begun delivering the S-300 surface-to-air missile system to Syria.
“The delivery started already and as President (Vladimir) Putin said, after that [downing] incident … the measures that we will take will be devoted to ensuring 100 percent safety and security of our men,” he told a news conference at the United Nations.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has criticized Russia’s decision as “irresponsible,” saying Tel Aviv “will continue to do what it has to do to defend itself.”